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The Long Road Home: A Study of Children Stranded in New York City Foster Care


The Long Road Home: A Study of Children Stranded in New York City Foster CareFoster care is supposed to be temporary — but in New York City, too many children are growing up in the custody of the state rather than in the care of permanent families.

On November 10, 2009, Children’s Rights released an in-depth new report on the New York City child welfare system detailing problems that delay the progress of children in New York City foster care toward reunification with their parents, adoption, or permanency through legal guardianship — and making concrete recommendations about how these problems can be solved.

The Long Road Home: A Study of Children Stranded in New York City Foster Care (PDF) was developed in collaboration with the NYC Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) and the Legal Aid Society Juvenile Rights Practice, with the voluntary participation of 28 private foster agencies and with input and support from many other organizations and individuals.

It examines the case records of 153 children out of more than 4,000 who have remained in foster care for two years or more despite being slated for reunification with their parents or adoption. It evaluates not only casework by ACS and the private foster care agencies, but also the workings of the Family Court, which has an equally important role and responsibility in moving children out of foster care. And it includes the voices and perspectives of a broad array of people — parents, foster parents, caseworkers, attorneys (for children, parents, and ACS), and Family Court judges and referees — who participated in interviews and focus groups for the study.

The resulting report is a roadmap for overcoming the barriers that keep too many children stranded in foster care too long and speeding their progress toward permanency — and though advocacy efforts are just now starting, it has already begun to produce results.

The Long Road Home was funded with support from the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, the Ira W. DeCamp Foundation, the Stella & Charles Guttman Foundation, the Edward and Ellen Roche Relief Foundation, the Marion E. Kenworthy-Sarah H. Swift Foundation, the Metzger-Price Fund, and the Marsicano Foundation.

2011 Long Road / One Year Home Symposium

The Long Road/One Year Home Symposium ProceedingsTwo years after the release of an in-depth study of children who had spent long periods of time in New York City foster care, Children’s Rights — in partnership with the New York City Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) — held a symposium to discuss new data on the issue of long foster care stays and to gain valuable feedback from the nearly 100 child welfare professionals in attendance.

New data (PDF) provided by ACS and the New York City Family Court showed that while some progress has been made to reunify children with their families more quickly or find new adoptive homes if reunification isn’t possible, nearly 40 percent of children currently in the city’s custody have been in care for more than three years.

Symposium participants took part in discussion groups covering a variety of topics, such as how to better use data to improve outcomes for children, how to strengthen relationships with birth parents, and how to better support older adolescents in foster care.


Children’s Rights took the feedback gathered from symposium participants, along with the new data presented, and in November 2011, issued a report of recommendations on how current progress can be maintained for children in New York City foster care, as well as thoughts on how new actions and initiatives could improve the city’s ability to meet the needs of its most vulnerable children.

Read the Children’s Rights report on the symposium proceedings HERE.

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