New York City has formed an agreement based on a proposed settlement of a lawsuit claiming inefficiencies in preparation of youth exiting foster care. The lawsuit alleged that the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) was inadequately preparing foster care children who reached the age of 18 to live independently, resulting in a large number of them ending up homeless. Under state law, the city is required to both supervise and assist in finding housing for youths who have aged out of foster care.
Following two years of negotiation among the ACS, the Legal Aid Society and the advocacy group Lawyers for Children, an accord has finally been made. It ensures that the city maintain a unit at ACS for the exiting youths, begin training of foster care agencies, modify the procedures for helping in the process of finding housing and improve teens’ relations with and access to resources. The children’s services agency will develop permanent stable housing plans and will work with foster care agencies to maintain that the plan is created in time to secure adequate housing. Those youths will be monitored by both the city and agencies until their 21st birthday. The accord also seeks to do some retroactive good; helping former foster children, currently older than age 21 to find appropriate housing.
Between 800 and 1,100 teenagers exit foster care annually, an unfortunately large portion of which can attribute to a significant percentage of the staggering numbers of homeless youths. The suit noted lamentable statistics, citing studies and testimony from officials with the city’s Department of Homeless Services identifying that roughly one third of youths in homeless shelters were once foster care children. This agreement hopes to bring that sizeable number down in addition to better planning for the future generation of youths exiting the system.