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Foster Children Mistreated, Suit Against City Claims
A. G. SULZBERGER
May 12, 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.

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