In New York, the child welfare authorities have broad discretion to disqualify a prospective foster parent if any adult in the person’s household has ever been charged with any crime.
Foster parents in the city are typically vetted by nonprofit foster-care agencies contracted by the Administration for Children’s Services. An official of one such nonprofit who spoke anonymously to discuss frankly how the system works said it would be quite possible for a prospective parent to deceive the agency.
Prospective parents are required to fill out a form and attest to its truthfulness, he said. But, he added, it is possible to lie on the forms, and although the authorities do a “home study” that includes a home visit before approving someone to be a foster parent, caseworkers do not vet families with random home checks.
The official said the state does not allow foster agencies to run criminal background checks on relatives of prospective foster parents whose legal residence is somewhere other than the prospective parent’s home. The nonprofit’s caseworkers will ask the people who do live in the home for information on any relatives who might visit, including about their criminal records. But people can lie about that, too, he said.
A spokesman for the Administration for Children’s Services said the agency was prohibited by state law from sharing information about individual cases, but he said, “We are immediately reviewing the allegations made by the Manhattan D.A. and are fully cooperating in the investigation.”
Mr. and Ms. Mitchell were arrested separately on Wednesday. She was taken into custody at her home in the Bronx, while Mr. Mitchell was arrested after leaving an area known to be used for prostitution and returning to a hotel room where he had been staying, prosecutors said. A handgun was recovered from the hotel room, prosecutors said.
The judge, Felicia Mennin, ordered that Mr. Mitchell be held without bail, and that Ms. Mitchell be held on $500,000 cash bail, $1.5 million insurance company bond and $2 million partially secured bond.