What You Need To Know About ACS

One of the scariest things that can happen to a parent is a knock on the door from the NYC Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), the agency responsible for investigating reports of child abuse and neglect. While ACS provides support services for families, they also have the power to remove children from their parents. Because many of the things that can trigger an ACS investigation are indistinguishable from other issues faced by families struggling with poverty, low-income parents are far more likely to be investigated than other parents.

To get the best results for their family, parents have to decide when to cooperate with ACS, and when to assert their rights – and that’s a tough decision to make. To help parents find this balance and know their rights, Brooklyn Defender Services (BDS) teamed up with CUP and designer Manuel Miranda to create What You Need To Know About ACS – Parents’ Rights When Dealing With the NYC Administration for Children’s Services.

The poster also breaks down the complex and difficult to navigate ACS investigation process, so parents know what’s coming, and provides the tools to help parents know when and how to assert their rights. Parents can use the guide to prepare themselves during the steps in the investigation before their case goes to Family Court — where they can access legal assistance.

BDS launched the guide at one of their community offices to parents involved in the ACS process, advocates for parents, and general community members. BDS is distributing the guide directly to their clients, and through their network of social service partners and community organizations.

Get your own copy here!

"It is the most authentic document I’ve ever run across in all of my time since I first encountered ACS [in 1996]… This is really important.” – Community Member

Resources & Links

Brooklyn Defender Services provides high quality legal representation and related services to people who cannot afford to retain an attorney.

Manuel Miranda Practice uses graphic design to make places and content visible, legible, and navigable to people.

Making Policy Public is a program of the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP). CUP partners with policy advocates and graphic designers to produce foldout posters that explain complicated policy issues, like this one.

Funding Support

Support for this project was provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

General support for CUP’s programs is provided in part by The Kresge Foundation, Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Mertz Gilmore Foundation, New York Foundation, Surdna Foundation, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. 

Special Thanks

Sabrina Calloway, Esiena Ekwofia, Christine Gaspar, Codi Haigney, Joy Howard, Joyce McMillan, Moshammet Rhodd, Yasmin Safdié, Ben Strachan, Ebony Taylor, Lamont Thomas, Emilio Vides-Curnen


  • CUP
  • Mark Torrey
    Clair Beltran

  • Brooklyn Defender Services
  • Daniel Ball
  • Meghan Downes
  • Jessica Nitsche
  • Designer
  • Manuel Miranda