ACS, Foster Care Task Force issue 16 reform recommendations

LOWER MANHATTAN, Manhattan (WABC) -- The Administration for Children's Services (ACS) and New York City's Foster Care Task Force have announced 16 recommendations aimed at making improvements in foster care.

Two of the task force's recommendations will be launched immediately, including after-school programs and a kinship program, along with an educational campaign called "Find Family and Friends First."

"Kids in foster care are exposed to less emotional trauma and more likely to achieve permanency through reunification ideally or through adoption or kinship guardianship," ACS Commissioner David Hansell said.

The recommendations are seen as a new chapter for those in foster care.

New York City Public Advocate Letitia James called it, "A fresh opportunity to work together to make positive changes that ultimately better the lives to children who are the most vulnerable, the most marginal and children who have so much stacked against them."

Alondra Castillo, in foster care since she was 15 years old, is a student representative on the task force.

"It's very traumatic," Castillo said. "And it's just going to provide some support and stability in their lives."

Milcah Slater, who also had been in foster care, found work on the task force very important.

"Kinship, I'm very excited about that," Slater said. "Because it will allow children to have stronger ties with their relatives and people they are very familiar with."

The report comes at a time as ACS has dramatically reduced the number of children in foster care from just under 17,000 in 2007 to fewer than 9,000 last year.

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