Lawsuit Alleges Failure of New York City Child Welfare System

The New York City child welfare system, which has been tasked with placing abused and neglected children in safe homes, is accused in a lawsuit of failing the very people it’s supposed to protect.

child welfare system

New York City’s Public Advocate, Leticia James and private lawyers are filing a class-action complaint against the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), an agency that represents most of the children in foster care in the city, alleging the organization is operating below standards.

The lawsuit names 10 children who have been in foster care for most or all of their lives as plaintiffs. Many report neglect, physical and sexual abuse while in care and are claiming these abuses have contributed to illnesses like depression and Bipolar Disorder.

New York has reduced the number of children in care from 45,000 in the 1990s to 11,000 today, but according to the lawsuit, New York City’s foster care system has one of the worst records of mistreatment of children in care. Continue reading

What is a Bonding Assessment?

A bonding assessment is a study that determines how a foster child has bonded with his foster or birth parents. It hinges upon a central question: if the child was removed from the current placement situation, would his overall well being be improved, hindered or unlikely to change at all?

Bonding Assessment
The answer to this question is determined by a child psychologist. During the bonding assessment, she studies the child’s behavior as well as his interaction with the foster or biological parent and other members of the household. While the psychologist may also interview members of the family together or in subgroups, she is most interested in the child’s behavior.

Each child psychologist may handle a bonding assessment differently, but there are many key components of a child-parent relationship that most evaluators across the nation tend to look for. These include but are not limited to:

  • The frequency and nature of touching between a parent and child
  • Comfort and guidance seeking behavior by the child
  • The parent’s ability to respond effectively to the child’s needs
  • Whether the child seems upset if separation occurs during the session

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North Carolina Law Looks To Increase Foster Parent Rights

Laws dictating the rights of foster parents vary state to state, with most being more restrictive than not in order to help protect children from harm. However, North Carolina is currently discussing a bill that would greatly enhance foster parent rights, granting them abilities to make more decisions for the children in their care.

Foster Parent Rights
North Carolina is considering a bill that would drastically alter state laws by granting rights to foster parents that currently don’t exist in many states, including New Jersey.

The proposed law, dubbed the Foster Care Family Act, would create a “reasonable and prudent standard” that would allow foster parents the right to give permission to children in care to take part in extracurricular and social activities without notifying North Carolina’s Department of Social Services. Continue reading

Study: Foster Care Health Issues Continue Into Adulthood

A recently released national study shows that former foster youth appear to have a higher risk of chronic health conditions above what is generally attributed to those in economic poverty. With a raised awareness of these foster care health issues, authors of the report hope policymakers will tailor programs to help these at-risk youth avoid chronic medical problems. For foster parents, acting now will likely help reduce future health problems in their foster children.

foster care health issues
Foster care health issues are not a new topic. Coming from higher rates of poverty and experiencing abuse and neglect exacts a toll on the physical and mental well-being of foster children, various studies have shown. However, a new report has revealed that the damage doesn’t stop there.

Those kids who were raised in the foster care system will often carry their health issues with them into adulthood, more so than children who are not in foster care.

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, investigated cardiovascular health of three groups of young adults: former foster care adults and non-foster care adults who came from both financially stable and financially unstable backgrounds. Continue reading

National Child Abuse Prevention Month: Bringing Awareness to a Growing Concern

According to the National Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Association, there are approximately 1,900 children that become victims of abuse or neglect every day in the United States. 646,000 neglected and abused children end up in foster care each year. These staggeringly high numbers attest to the fact this issue is an increasing concern in the country. Each April, during National Child Abuse Prevention Month, the nation focuses on fighting the growing trend of child abuse.

National Child Abuse Prevention Month

In 1974, President Richard Nixon signed the first federal child protection legislation known as the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA). The first National Child Abuse Prevention week occurred in June of 1982, and the following year President Ronald Regan officially named April National Child Abuse Prevention Month. After 40 years, the CAPTA is going strong fighting for the rights of the many children that have suffered abuse.

Although the harsh reality of child abuse is brought to the forefront in April of every year, it will take communities to band together to constantly advocate for those whose voices have been taken away. To help bring awareness to this issue, the Protect Our Children Act evaluates current programs and prevention efforts and recommends an effective strategy to prevent child abuse and neglect fatalities throughout the nation.

To report abuse in your area, you can either contact your local child welfare agency, your law enforcement agency or your state’s child abuse reporting hotline. Each state has appointed professionals (e.g., social workers, physicians and child care providers) that are required by law to report child abuse. In Wyoming and New Jersey, every person is mandated to report abuse or neglect. In New Jersey, you can dial 1-877 NJ ABUSE (1-877-652-2873), and your report can be taken anonymously.

Every child has a right to feel safe enough to sleep at night – without the fear of being a victim of any form of abuse.

Get more insight on the types of abuse that exist and who it affects most on the Prevent Child Abuse America’s website.

Adoption Story: Heidi Davis and Sharia Renee Davis

Heidi Davis didn’t become a foster parent with any intention of adoption.

She already had three daughters of her own. Still – the Branchburg resident wanted to help children in need so she, along with her husband Roger, went through the licensing process and opened their home.

Adoption StoryBut if you asked them if they ever intended on adding a member to the family permanently, they’d flatly tell you no.

Sharia changed all that.

The then 16 month old girl was placed with Davis on February 28, 2012. Continue reading