ACS Agrees to Better Protect Kids Aging Out of Foster Care

The city has agreed to provide better services for children aging out of the foster care system, the Administration for Children’s Services vowed on Friday.

The agreement would settle a lawsuit between the city and child welfare advocacy groups that alleged the agency had failed to abide by a state laws that mandate children be prepared for independent living when they leave the system at age 18.

The proposed settlement comes after two years of negotiations between the ACS, Legal Aid and Lawyers for Children.

Karen Gutheil, an attorney with Legal Aid who worked on the case, said kids aging out of foster care can wind up up in single-room occuppency hotels, couch surfing or staying with a relatives that might end up turning them out.

“There are an alarming number of young people who are being discharged from foster care to inadequate and unlawful housing conditions because ACS has not been providing the assistance that they are required to do,” Gutheil said.

Under the agreement, ACS must maintain a special unit for children who turn 18. The agency must also initiate training for foster care agencies, update its procedures for helping young people find stable housing and improve their access to services.

“We are committed to helping young people leaving foster care achieve successful adulthood, which includes appropriate stable housing,” ACS Commissioner Ronald E. Richter said.

A judge must still sign off on the settlement before it takes effect.

One in 10 young people in New York City who left foster care in the mid-2000s entreated a homeless shelter within a year, according to a September report from the Center for an Urban Future. Within three years, that number doubled to one in five.

With reporting by Channon Hodger