New York, NY — On December 29, 2017, “The New York Times” ran an op-ed on the surging ranks of young people in foster care across the nation, connecting it to the opioid crisis affecting so many of our communities. Jessica Maxwell, who leads Children’s Aid’s efforts as part of the Fostering Youth Success Alliance, wrote the following response:
After years of seeing the number of young people in foster care shrink, it’s staggering how quickly and sharply that trend could reverse. If history, specifically last century’s crack epidemic, has taught us anything, it’s that these consequences endure. This is not a temporary problem.
When kids enter the child welfare system, the state becomes “in loco parentis.” Leaders nationally must recognize the graveness of that responsibility and respond appropriately.
In recent years, Gov. Cuomo and New York State legislators have embraced one crucial aspect of that role: bolstering opportunity for foster youth to attend college. Higher education is the best way for these young people to achieve financial stability and avoid the homelessness, unemployment, and legal problems that have plagued so many.
New York needs to increase its comprehensive support for the 4,000 college-aged youth in care—and make it permanent. This is one aspect of the support needed to ensure that foster youth are not punished for actions over which they have no control. It’s what all parents would want for their kids.
Children’s Aid is an independent, nonprofit organization established to serve the children, youth, and families in several under-resourced New York City neighborhoods. Our mission is to help children in poverty succeed and thrive. Founded in 1853, Children’s Aid is one of the nation’s largest and most innovative nonsectarian human services agencies. Services are provided in community schools, neighborhood centers, health clinics, and camps. For additional information, contact Anthony Ramos at (212) 949-4938 or anthonyr@ChildrensAidNYC.org