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Meeting the Permanency Needs of Children

In 2005, the Legislature passed a crucial bill for children, known as “the Permanency Bill,” [Laws of 2005, ch.3]. The law’s objective was to ensure that children did not linger in foster care longer than necessary and that they receive all of the services they need while they are dependent on the family court. To this end, the law requires that the family court hold a substantive hearing on each child’s situation every six months (twice as often as under prior law).

If implemented as designed, the law speeds reunification for children who can return home safely and adoption for those who cannot. In practice, however, the state has not provided the necessary resources to implement the law, which has jeopardized the system’s ability to process cases efficiently and results in children spending longer periods in care. In particular, the failure to increase the number of Family Court judges to address the increase in the number of hearings required by statute has contributed to the present crisis in New York’s family courts.

Timely and effective permanency planning is vital to a child’s well-being. As such, the City Bar supports legislation that would extend permanency planning to include children who enter the family court system as Persons in Need of Supervision and Juvenile Delinquents. In addition, since child welfare financing (Social Service Law Section 153-k) expired in June 2012, New York should adopt a funding model that better supports the safety, permanency and well-being of children who come into contact with the child welfare system.