Foster Care

At any given time, approximately 400,000 children and youth are in the nation’s foster care systems. Almost all enter the system with complex histories of trauma caused by abuse and/or neglect. The State becomes their parent and assumes a unique legal and moral responsibility for their safety and well-being. Yet many are re-traumatized, overmedicated, further neglected, bounced from home to home, or placed in congregate care facilities which have a proven detrimental impact on their well-being outcomes. Too many foster children exit care far worse than when they entered. A disproportionate number of those exiting worse off are children and youth of color.

The National Center for Youth Law (NCYL) works to improve the lives of children and youth in foster care so that they can exit care healthier and stronger than when they entered. Because these children’s lives are touched by many if not all child serving systems in this country, NCYL’s approach involves campaigns that address education, health and mental health, the judiciary and employment.

To assist attorneys, advocates and researchers working in this arena, NCYL maintains the Foster Care Docket, a comprehensive, indexed and searchable database of litigation involving foster care.

Campaigns

Reducing the Over-Medication of Children and Youth in Foster Care - California

December 21, 2016
California foster children are being prescribed dangerous and unnecessary doses of psychotropic medications. Often the drugs are used as chemical restraints, rather than for medically accepted purposes. Over-medicated children face serious, life-long damage to their health, including morbid obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular damage. Foster youth…

Ending Child Trafficking - California

December 21, 2016
NCYL raises public awareness about the plight of sex trafficked children and young adults and helps formulate and implement public policies that address their needs as victims, not criminals.

Improving Education Outcomes for Children in the State’s Care - New Mexico

December 21, 2016
FosterEd New Mexico is working to improve the educational outcomes of children in New Mexico’s care by implementing promising practices; forging and bolstering partnerships at a local system level to establish infrastructure for cross-sector engagement, and working at a state and regional policy level to address large scale systemic barriers.

Latest News

Big drop in drugged foster kids in California - San Jose Mercury News

April 1, 2018
After years of efforts to crack down on the rampant use of psychiatric drugs in California’s foster care system, the number of youth prescribed the potent medications is plummeting — a major turnaround in how the state cares for some of its most vulnerable children.…