Cindy Rodriguez is the Urban Policy reporter for New York Public Radio.
Within certain circles, this Vera Institute investigation was long awaited. It was commissioned by the city in 2005 after several stories broke claiming that the Administration for Children's Services had used black and Latino kids as Guinea pigs and was placing them in foster care if their parents would not agree to the drug trials.
The investigation found no evidence of this. It did however find plenty of sloppy record keeping. There were no parental consent forms for 21 percent of the 532 kids in the drug trials. Yes, even if your kids get taken into foster care, you still have a right to make medical decisions for them. Unless of course your parental rights have been terminated, then the Commissioner of ACS has authority. Some of these consent forms may be with the state, but we don't know, because the Department of Health, citing confidentiality concerns, refused to release medical records.
The lack of state medical records was one shortcoming of the report; the other was that none of the children in the drug trials were found. We are now searching for them. If you took part in the drug trials or know of anyone who did you can post a comment below or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Something to keep in mind, this all happened during a time when the city was a mess. According to the report, the first federal drug arrest for crack cocaine was made in 1985. On top of the crack epidemic, there was the AIDS epidemic, family homelessness was starting, there was high unemployment - 11 percent in 1992, and most relevant - the number of foster children jumped from 16,000 to about 50,000 between 1985 to 1990. Just a reminder that things could be and have been much worse than they are today.
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