Administration for Children’s Services recently reached an agreement which will settle a class-action lawsuit filed against the agency. The lawsuit alleged that the city agency allows children who “age out” of foster care (between the ages of 18 and 21) to become immediately homeless. Children who enter foster care do so for one of two reasons: there has been a finding of abuse or neglect against their parents or their parents voluntarily placed them into foster care. The agency contracts out to other foster care agencies which monitor and provide services for the foster care youth. The children are monitored, as well as their parents, and in some cases, the children are returned home; otherwise, the children remain in foster care until they “age out.” Regardless, the agency does not offer services for these children once they “age out.” State law requires ACS to supervise and assist in providing housing for people who have left foster care until they reach the age of 21. However, an alarming amount of people who have been discharged from foster care are discharged into homelessness.
In order to settle this lawsuit, after two years of negotiations, the agency has offered to implement a new unit in ACS to oversee that foster care agencies create permanent housing plans for youths living in foster care. Specifically, ACS will develop permanent housing plans for youths living in foster care. It will work with foster care agencies to create the plans in time to find adequate housing. The city and the agencies will monitor the young adults discharged under the plans until they turn 21. ACS will also track and monitor data on their housing until they turn 21, and the new unit in ACS will oversee foster care agencies to ensure that they adhere to the new requirements, beginning with specific housing-related training for foster care agencies.
It is clear that ACS is committed to providing the best futures possible for children discharged from foster care. ACS gets a lot of criticism when to the outside world it appears that ACS’ actions may be inadequate. Foster care agencies, at the direction of ACS, assist children with New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) applications once they are old enough. The implementation of the new unit in ACS will ensure that all players are doing their part to enable the foster care youth to be successful adults with stable housing. After all, a stable home life will enable those discharged from foster care to be productive members of society.