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Three Children in Foster Care Challenge New York City Policy of Keeping Healthy Kids in Psychiatric Hospitals; Represented by Legal Aid Society

Monday, May 24, 2010

A. G. Sulzberger, "Foster Children Mistreated, Suit Against City Claims," The New York Times, May 12, 2010

The New York Times reports: "A federal lawsuit is seeking to bar New York City from allowing troubled foster-care children to be kept in psychiatric hospitals after doctors have recommended their release, a practice that routinely adds months to a hospitalization despite laws that require such children to be placed in the least restrictive environment possible. The suit, filed on Wednesday [May 12th] in United States District Court in Brooklyn, claims that the practice means that children who no longer require hospitalization are being kept in locked quarters where they have limited access to schooling, family visits and even walks outside. The suit also claims that the Administration for Children's Services, which oversees the care of about 16,000 foster children in New York City, and its subcontractors have been 'using certain psychiatric hospitals as if they are detention centers,' sending some children to hospitals for disciplinary reasons, like breaking curfew, running away or getting in fights, rather than for mental health reasons. . . . The suit was filed by the Legal Aid Society on behalf of three unnamed foster-care children who are currently hospitalized despite doctors' recommendations that they be released. . . . 'Some of these kids do have serious mental-health needs that may require hospitalization,' [said Nancy Rosenbloom, one of the Legal Aid lawyers handling the case.] 'But the point of this case is once they're ready to get out, they should get out.'"

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