Legal Aid’s Juvenile Rights Practice Head Says Stakeholders Must Be Involved In Child Welfare Reform, Cautions Against Knee-Jerk Reactions

Tamara Steckler, Attorney-in-Charge of The Legal Aid Society’s Juvenile Rights Practice, discussed the topic of child welfare reform Thursday on NY1’s The Call.

Steckler spoke after the New York City Comptroller’s Office released findings that were critical of the New York City Administration for Children’s Services (ACS). The Comptroller conclusions, coming after the September death of six-year-old Zymere Perkins, have been challenged by ACS.

While speaking on The Call, Steckler emphasized, “Any child dying is a tragedy that needs to be investigated. But I’m always a little worried when there are knee-jerk reactions to how this should be addressed, what kinds of reforms should occur.”

Steckler noted Legal Aid is “one of the entities that is always holding ACS accountable” through its representation of children in abuse and neglect cases filed in Family Court, and its willingness to file class action lawsuits whenever identifying the need for systemic change.

“So we’re really not scared of holding ACS accountable. It’s what we do for a living. But reform, sustainable reform, has to occur with all the stakeholders,” such as advocates for parents, advocates for children and the court system, Steckler said.