The New York Times
By A. G. Sulzberger
May 13, 2010
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 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.
A spokeswoman for the city’s Corporation Counsel declined to comment on the suit, saying the city had not yet had a chance to review it.
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.
“Every day that it continues, plaintiffs’ extended, wrongful confinement in these institutions is causing them irreparable damage,” the lawsuit says.
One of the children, a 6-year-old boy identified as S. M. who was placed into foster care last year, was hospitalized in Westchester in January, after “misbehavior” in his foster home, according to the complaint. The boy, who was in kindergarten, has been ready for discharge since April 2.
Read entire article: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/13/nyregion/13acs.html