Foster Care Should Be a Last Option

Letters to the Editor

There Are Worse Things Than Foster Care,” by Naomi Schaefer Riley (Op-Ed, nytimes.com, Nov. 21), doesn’t account for New York City’s incredible reforms preserving families and avoiding undue trauma caused by family separation.

The number of children in foster care in the city has gone from 45,000 — yes, 45,000 — to under 9,000 over the last two decades. In large part, this change reflects a recognition that the historical impulse to remove children from the homes of racially disenfranchised and impoverished families for the purported benefit of the children is often misguided and ultimately harmful to the very children the city is charged with protecting.

For good reason, the Administration for Children’s Services has invested considerably in developing programs that support families to keep children safe in their homes and avoid separation. This approach often provides the best long-term outcomes for children.

There is significant room for improvement of the system, but the solution is not more removals.

Dawne Mitchell
Lisa Freeman
New York

Ms. Mitchell is attorney in charge of the Juvenile Rights Practice at the Legal Aid Society. Ms. Freeman is director of special litigation in the practice.

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