Family Defense Practice Social Worker

The Bronx Defenders

Full Job Description
Overview:The Bronx Defenders – an innovative, progressive, holistic indigent defense office in the South Bronx – seeks a Masters level social worker with a commitment to social justice to work as a Family Defense Practice Social Worker on behalf of parents fighting allegations of child abuse and neglect in Bronx County Family Court.
The Bronx Defenders is a public defender non-profit that is radically transforming how low-income people in the Bronx are represented in the legal system, and, in doing so, is transforming the system itself. BxD seeks thoughtful, creative, energetic individuals with a strong commitment to social justice to join our dynamic and diverse staff. Our staff of over 400 includes interdisciplinary teams made up of criminal, civil, immigration, and family defense attorneys, as well as social workers, benefits specialists, legal advocates, parent advocates, investigators, and team administrators, who collaborate to provide holistic advocacy to address the causes and consequences of legal system involvement. Through this integrated team-based structure, we have developed a groundbreaking, nationally-recognized model of representation called holistic defense that achieves better outcomes for the people we defend.
Each year, we defend more than 20,000 low-income Bronx residents in criminal, civil, child welfare, and immigration cases, and reach thousands more through our community intake, youth mentoring, and outreach programs. Through impact litigation, policy advocacy, and community organizing, we push for systemic transformation at the local, state, and national levels. We take what we learn from the people we represent and communities that we work with and launch innovative initiatives designed to bring about real and lasting change.
Family Defense Practice
The Bronx Defenders Family Defense Practice (FDP) provides legal representation and social work support to parents charged with child abuse and neglect who are at risk of losing custody of their children. Family Defense Practice Social Workers at The Bronx Defenders are at the forefront of a movement to provide holistic, institutional representation to parents in Bronx County Family Court. They are dedicated to fighting on behalf of parents whose parental rights are in peril while creating long-term solutions for the reunification and stability of families.
Responsibilities:The Bronx Defenders is seeking a thoughtful and dedicated social worker to work in our Family Defense Practice. Social workers are integral to the representation of parents from poor communities charged with abuse/neglect of their children. The social worker will be part of an interdisciplinary team of lawyers and other advocates, and assist in the development of a litigation strategy as well as connect parents with the necessary services and support to advance their legal goals, support reunification with their children and prevent Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) surveillance of their families.
Interview and assess clients to identify strengths, resources, and needs
Provide supportive counseling to clients
Educate clients about the family court process and assist them in overcoming barriers while navigating the system
Connect clients with a wide variety of social services and benefits, and provide case management support and advocacy
Work collaboratively with clients, lawyers, and other advocates on a multi-disciplinary holistic defense team
Assist clients and the legal team in identifying legal goals, strategizing to meet those goals, and assessing progress
Work as a liaison between family court, criminal court, and child protection systems
Advocate for clients in Bronx County Family Court and community-based programs
Prepare clients for court-related assessments
Interpret external court-related assessments
Advocate for clients at Child Safety Conferences and Family Team Conferences
Crisis intervention
Availability to work flexible hours, including nights and/or weekends and willingness to work as back up during staff shortages, when available
Qualifications:To be eligible, candidates must have:
M.S.W. from an accredited School of Social Work
Applicants must demonstrate:
Experience working in and with racially, ethnically, and socioeconomically marginalized communities
Ability to effectively and respectfully communicate, collaborate, and connect with people with various backgrounds, identities, and experiences
Ability to work well independently as well as collaboratively with an interdisciplinary team of lawyers and non-lawyers
Commitment to directly defending people ensnared in the family regulation system against accusations from organizations such as the Administration for Children’s Service (ACS) and Child Protective Services (CPS)
Commitment to fierce advocacy, and willingness to strategically challenge authority in defense of clients
Ability to multitask, maintain order and meet deadlines in a fast-paced, high-stakes environment
Meticulous attention to detail
Effective communication and active listening skills
Effective verbal and written advocacy skills
Strong analytical skills and capacity to employ non-legal resources
Ability to exercise good judgment, discretion, and confidentiality with sensitive matters
Ability to think critically and creatively in fast-paced settings
Ability to receive constructive feedback, demonstrate introspection and shift behavior accordingly
Commitment to raising one’s cultural consciousness and challenging oppressive practices on an interpersonal and institutional level
Knowledge of substance use disorder, domestic violence, parenting, and mental health systems
Experience working with and on behalf of parents navigating the child welfare system is preferred, but not required
Spanish language proficiency is a plus
As of October 29, 2021, all city-funded employees with any potential of in-person contact with clients, community members or staff are required to show proof of full vaccination. You can find more details regarding this mandate here. Please let us know if this presents an issue.

Salary is commensurate with experience. For candidates with 1-10 years of directly relevant experience, the salary range for this position would be approximately $64,350 – $83,500. Full-time employees are also eligible for a comprehensive benefits package including but not limited to medical, dental and vision coverage; a 403(b) plan with employer contribution; a generous vacation, sick leave, and parental leave policy. More specific information about salary and benefits will be provided when and if an offer is extended.

Please read carefully:
To apply, please click APPLY TO THIS JOB ONLINE and upload your resume and a cover letter in one document when prompted. If writing a cover letter is not accessible to you, you may upload your resume as a document and separately upload a video or audio statement instead of a cover letter if that is more accessible to you. Your cover letter or video/audio statement should share why you want to do this work at our office, some key lived and/or professional experiences that have prepared you for this position, and any additional information you would like for us to consider. This information allows us to understand your distinct perspective, experience, and potential beyond the work history summarized on your resume. Your cover letter may be up to one page if written or up to 3 minutes if an audio/video statement. Please remember that you may submit a written cover letter or an audio/video, but not both, and applications without either will not be considered. The start date for this position is immediate or as soon as possible.


The application deadline is May 17, 2022. Please contact Caitlin Becker, Managing Director of Social Work, via email at with any questions regarding the position.
The Bronx Defenders is an equal opportunity employer and is cultivating an anti-oppressive workplace that embraces staff with a diversity of backgrounds, identities and experiences. We acknowledge the ways in which systemic oppression and injustice can undermine access to professional opportunities and are committed to conducting hiring and promotion processes that are equitable and accessible to those commonly excluded from the workforce. We do not discriminate against and in fact specifically encourage applicants from marginalized communities to apply, including those who identify as Black, Indigenous, people of color, queer, transgender, gender non-conforming, disabled, neurodivergent and those directly impacted by criminal, civil, family and immigration legal systems. We value lived as well as professional experience and particularly welcome applications from the Bronx community that we work with.

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