New York Times Article on Foster Care Reform

The New York Times has recently published an article on the foster care system and the ‘shadow’ foster care system in the United States.

The article describes the “hidden” or “shadow foster care” system, that has appeared over the past decade, where the legal protections in the formal system are not available. The formal foster care system in the United States is paid for by federal, state, and local funds where caseworkers investigate reports of child neglect. In family court, where children and low-income families have access to free lawyers, judges determine if children should be placed in foster care, and, if so, oversee the placements and determine how long the placements should be. Caseworkers conduct regular checks on children and work with families on stabilization programs such as anger management and addiction treatment.

In the ”shadow” foster care system, states and caseworkers do not bring investigations before a judge but rather convince parents to send their children to someone they know while threatening to send their children into foster care if they do not comply. Once sent away, children are not monitored; the shadow system does not guarantee any of the protection and safety measures required in the foster care system. There are no federal laws that govern this system and few states have introduced regulations.

Restatement of the Law, Children and Law project Adviser Josh Gupta-Kagan is quoted in the NYT article, describing the shadow system “It’s a due-process violation all across the country... Family integrity is a fundamental constitutional right, and this practice turned it on its head.” Gupta-Kagan discusses child protection law in his upcoming piece in the Stanford Law and Policy Review.

Read the full article here. [Subscription may be required].