Petition update

Our response to Bill de Blasio and his administration

Seth Rudetsky
new york, NY, United States

Apr 11, 2015 — Dear Ms. Carrion,

As much as we both appreciate your response to our petition, sadly, it does not appear that you or your staff have read any of the very poignant comments left by parents and their families, case workers, or children who aged out of the system. If you had read them, how can you completely disregard all of the comments about the brilliant work COAC and You Gotta Believe have done and the failures ACS has been a part of? Furthermore, if you had read them, why would ACS be so intent on cutting a minuscule 1/300th of their annual budget? This is the agency responsible for NYC foster children and, according to verified statistics, the stay of an average NYC foster child in foster care is DOUBLE the national average.

You state, “Their combined recruitment efforts resulted in the placement of only 18 children into foster care and/or pre-adoptive homes.”

How about instead of namedropping 18 children and implying it’s a very small number, you acknowledge there were only 40 children “stranger adopted” (aka not by a relative or their foster family) in the ENTIRE STATE! Does that mean that COAC and YOU GOTTA BELIEVE were responsible for helping almost 50% of these types of adoptions? Not just in New York City, in the ENTIRE STATE? If that is not the correct number, what is?

You state, “…we appreciate the work these two agencies have done for these 18 children. But this result does not justify the $1.2 million in funding that could help many more children find the families they deserve.”

First of all, when asked during the council hearing what was replacing COAC and YOU GOTTA BELIEVE, your answer was silence. So how is this money helping “many more children find the families they deserve”?

Secondly, out of an almost $3 billion budget, this $1.2 million was necessary to cut? How does that make sense math-wise? How many of these 18 children that were helped by COAC and YOU GOTTA BELIEVE were living in residential facilities that cost the city over $100k a year? If you are only going to look at dollars and cents, how much were these 18 children costing the city each year? 18 x $100,000 is $1.8 million…more than the budget for COAC and YOU GOTTA BELIEVE. Furthermore, how much would these kids have cost the city if they had stayed in foster care until age 21? We’re going to guess A LOT more than $1.2 million.

You state, “We have a network of 26 foster care agencies that placed 1,300 children in adoptive homes last year.”

We would like the following information:
1) What is the breakdown in ages amongst these 1,300 children? Specifically, how many of them were younger? In other words, not the older, “special needs” children these two agencies almost exclusively dealt with.
2) Are these all really adoptive homes? Really? Or temporary foster placements where they will be moved again and again like the majority of foster children in NYC.
3) How many of them were repeat placements?
4) How many of them came from group homes and residential centers that can cost up to $100K a year? These are the children that COAC and You Gotta Believe specifically deal with.
5) Are there certain foster care agencies which have a better track record than others? Which ones?

You state, “We invite all New Yorkers interested in providing permanent homes for children in the foster care system to contact ACS's Parent Support and Recruitment information by calling 311.”

Commissioner, do you really have any idea what happens when you do that? Have you ever tried to call yourself? Well, I have spoken to other parents who have been given numbers to call and waited months for responses from various agencies. As a matter of fact, one of them is a guest this weekend on my SiriusXM radio show. When she said they wanted to adopt or to be permanent parents, they were told repeatedly that the agencies only do foster care and that they could not help them with adoption. At best, they could only help them with the children from within their agency and not with a child in any of the other 25 foster care agencies in the city. In fact, even though ACS told us specifically last week the NYC foster care agencies could “do the work that COAC did.” We were told the complete opposite when we called various agencies in NYC.

We applaud your agency evaluating the entire adoption process. It completely makes sense but you abruptly ended the contracts for the only two adoption recruitment agencies in the city with nothing to replace them. That said,

Who exactly is on this recruitment advisory committee and when are they scheduled to issue a report on their findings? In the meantime, while the city is waiting, what happens to these children—the hundreds of children who age out each year? That are aging out right now and there is no longer any agency funded by the city to specifically help them. Studies show 50% will become homeless or wind up in prison. WHAT IS YOUR PLAN?

Seth Rudetsky and James Wesley

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