Critics: ACS failing foster kids who 'age out' of system

Advocates rallied outside City Hall Thursday to demand the Administration for Children's Services better prepare foster children who "age out" of the system.

"It's a situation built for failure on many levels," Councilman Bill de Blasio said. He was joined by people who've lived in foster care, including a single mother of two, who had to find their own way after turning 21.

"We didn't have permanent housing. Had nowhere to turn after my child was born. I was lost," Lynette Roberts said of her experience.

Mary Brown said she's worried about her fate when she ages out of the system in three months.

Advocates said the problem is too common. They claim about 1,000 children age out of the ACS foster care system yearly. Program critics argue the agency isn't doing enough to prepare people for success.

At a heated City Council hearing Thursday, even ACS officials admitted the system needs to change. The agency said it is starting a new program that focuses on employment, finances and decision-making skills.

However, some council members remained skeptical, saying too many former foster children end up in homeless shelters or jail. Elected officials also claimed it's illegal for the ACS to allow children to age out of foster care and move directly into shelters.

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