Press Releases

Public Advocate James, Elected Officials, Youth Advocates Call for Passage of Legislation That Would Track Kids Aging Out of Foster Care

Released June 16, 2014

Contact: Aja Worthy-Davis, (212) 669-4813, adavis@pubadvocate.nyc.gov

1,000 Youth Age Out of Foster Care Annually, More Likely To Seek Public Assistance

(New York, NY)— New York City Public Advocate Letitia James was joined by elected officials and youth advocacy agencies to call for the passage of legislation that would provide data regarding youth transitioning out of the city foster care system.

Currently, there are 12,000 children and youth in our city’s foster care system. As they age, many transitioning youth struggle to develop educationally and emotionally, and seek to establish life-skills that will allow them to live independently and successfully. Yet, each year, nearly 1,000 young people age out of foster care, only to later seek assistance through public services.

Introduction 104-2014, a bill put forth by Public Advocate Letitia James, would help ensure that the city can track these young adults after they leave the system to better understand what support and resources they are availing themselves of; educational barriers; and problems they might encounter with homelessness or law enforcement. The bill would allow for the coordination among relevant agencies to ensure this information is more readily available.
This data would be accessible to elected officials, youth advocates, and the public at large with the intent of creating recommendations for this at-risk population.

“It is important that we are able to provide accurate and up-to-date data on the experiences of youth transitioning out of the foster care system, said NYC Public Advocate Letitia James. “This bill will facilitate greater communication and partnership between city agencies and youth service agencies that support young people in the foster care system. Together, we can best address the needs of this at-risk population, and provide the tools necessary to improve their quality of life and future success.”

“Every year thousands of New Yorkers age-out of the foster care system and face the prospect of falling through the cracks of a very porous social safety net that is ill-suited to assist them,” said Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson, Chair of the Committee on Public Safety. “This legislation is the first step in a process designed to make sure that the necessary services and support programs are in place for those New Yorkers who need them.”

“Thousands of foster care youth often face adversities during the early stages of emotional, physiological, and mental development. Through community support, these youth can overcome these challenges to succeed both academically and professionally. Our focus, as a legislative body, must shift
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to ensure that all youth are well-equipped to care for themselves and become responsible adults. It is evident that there is a disparity between New York City youth within the foster care system and their peers. I look forward to working with Public Advocate James and my colleagues in the New York City Council to pass legislation that will bolster the quality of services provided by the Administration for Children’s Services,” said Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo, Chair of the Women’s Issues Committee.
“Growing up in foster care, I was born into a world that defined people like me as a failure, not by choice but by circumstance. It’s a severe injustice to place that label on a young person who already faces so many obstacles. Youth in foster care deserve extra support and attention, not to be abandoned at the age of 18,” said Marvin Bing, Special Assistant to the Executive Director of Amnesty International.

“FPWA believes that every child has the right to a permanent home and a stable environment, and that supporting the family structure is critical to preserving this right,” said Wayne Ho, Chief Program and Policy Officer at the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA). “Tracking and obtaining data on the outcomes of youth who age out of care is the first step in examining how the city can better address the needs of these vulnerable youth and help them succeed.”

“New York City has a responsibility— both moral and legal— to do better for the children and youth placed in the custody of the City. We need to do much more to ensure more youth leave foster care to permanent, forever families. And for all youth who leave foster care, we have a special obligation to ensure they develop the tools needed to succeed in life related to education, housing, employment, health and mental health care, and the ability to develop healthy relationships. We thank the Public Advocate for her commitment to these young people and we look forward to working with her, the City Council, and the Administration to produce better outcomes for foster youth,” said Stephanie Gendell, Associate Executive Director for Policy and Government Relations at the Citizens’ Committee for Children

“The Door applauds the Public Advocate’s efforts to gather data on the well-being of youth aging out of foster care. Each year, The Door serves hundreds of former foster youth who are struggling to survive on their own, often on the streets or in the city’s homeless shelter system. Working together with ACS, we can ensure that young people aging out of care have the tools they need to live independent and productive lives. Through our own successful programs, The Door has seen first-hand how supportive housing can prevent homelessness among youth aging out of care. We anticipate that the data collected pursuant to these bills will bolster our call for increasing targeted housing opportunities for this vulnerable population,” said Julie Shapiro, Executive Director of The Door Legal Services Center.

“Children who ‘age out’ of the system without family support are among the most vulnerable members of our communities. The systemic data-collection and transparency called for in these bills will shed light on what really happens to kids in foster care, and give us a chance to do a better job of supporting these young people,” said Barbara Graves-Poller, Supervisor of the Kinship Caregiver Law Project at MFY Legal services.

“As the attorneys for the majority of children and young adults in New York City foster care, we have serious concerns about our clients who are aging out of care,” said Tami Steckler, Attorney-in-Charge of the Juvenile Rights Practice at The Legal Aid Society. “As we continue to monitor the settlement of our class action lawsuit, D.B. v Richter, brought on behalf of these clients, we support the collection of any and all data related to the many issues our clients face, and welcome the transparency it would provide.”

“We at Graham Windham are very supportive of Commissioner Carrion’s focus on the well-being of youth in care, and appreciate that the Public Advocate and Committee on General Welfare are committed to ensuring youth have the preparation, opportunity, and support to reach their fullest potential in life,” said Jess Dannhauser, Graham Windham President and CEO.

“As a product of the foster care system, and also as a child advocate, I believe in the necessity of this bill. We must hold to task those who are entrusted with the lives of our children. Our children’s futures, and subsequently our own, depend on it,” said Emicia Yvette-Parker, Ms. New York Plus America 2014.

“As a former foster youth who aged out, I know all too well the challenges youth face and the anxiety and uncertainty associated with that transition. I am encouraged that Intro 104 will allow for the creation of tangible infrastructures that will serve as safeguards to ensure a bright future for these promising young adults, not only by gathering metrics on their outcomes, but also when necessary, improve resources and services that help them thrive. This bill recognizes the fact that youth who spend most or all of their childhood in foster care, are presented with a unique set of challenges after they “age out” of the system and transition into adulthood. It is my belief that this duality, as a best practice approach, will dramatically improve the outlook and outcomes of one of our city’s treasures: our youth aging out of foster care,” said Jamel Robinson, President and Chief Executive Officer at The Jamel Robinson Child Welfare Reform Initiative, Inc.

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