New York City foster care: stories from children and parents the system failed

A watchdog report reveals the Administration of Children’s Services has abused its power in family courts, wrongly taken children into custody and inadequately assisted those it claims to help.

News Story (New York)

Daniel Medina
July 1, 2015
Full story

Tags: Children & Juvenile

Organizations mentioned/involved: Legal Aid Society (New York City), Bronx Defenders


ACS does not have removal power, except in extreme cases, and must take all its cases before a judge in family court. In court, children and parents are separately represented; typically by lawyers from Legal Aid Society or by a pro-bono private attorney.

Family court is unique in the American legal apparatus. It is a civil court that falls outside American criminal law, thus the sixth amendment right to a speedy trial clause does not apply. This means that a case can languish for years with no resolution. The public advocate’s report highlighted that more than a quarter of the hotline’s respondents said they had lived in foster care for three to five years with an additional more than 20% reporting betweenfive to 10 years. In only 10% of cases was the child returned to their birth parent.