Entertainment Heavyweights Call on De Blasio to Reverse Cutting Adoption Programs for Foster Kids
Rick Miramontez / Andy Snyder
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, PLEASE
ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY HEAVYWEIGHTS COME TOGETHER
TO CALL ON NEW YORK CITY MAYOR DE BLASIO
TO REVERSE DECISION
CUTTING ADOPTION PROGRAMS FOR FOSTER KIDS
SIRIUSXM BROADWAY HOST SETH RUDETSKY & HUSBAND JAMES WESLEY
LEAD CHARGE WITH IMPASSIONED PLEA ON CHANGE.ORG
JUDD APATOW, KRISTIN CHENOWETH, LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA,
ROSIE PEREZ, AUDRA MCDONALD,
IDINA MENZEL, & ROSIE O’DONNELL
AMONG THE GROWING LIST OF THOSE CALLING FOR ACTION
New York, NY (April 6, 2015)– A growing number of the most noted celebrities in the entertainment industry are calling on Mayor de Blasio to reverse his administration’s recent decision completely cutting funding to the only two agencies dedicated to helping all NYC foster children find adoptive families.
The decision could put at risk many of the 1,300 city foster kids who are eagerly awaiting a forever home before they age out of the foster care system. Studies show that 50% of those children will then end up homeless or incarcerated.
Within hours of SiriusXM Broadway host Seth Rudetsky and his husband James Wesley posting their impassioned plea on Change.org, hundreds of people signed the petition and promoted it on social media. Most notably among the voices supporting the petition are Judd Apatow, Megan Hilty, Idina Menzel, Kristin Chenoweth, Laura Benanti, Josh Gad, Lauren Graham, Nia Vardalos, Debra Messing, Anika Larsen, Julie Halston, Chris Jackson, Audra McDonald, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Rosie Perez, Perez Hilton, Hunter Bell, Kristen Johnston, Brian d’Arcy James, Kerry Butler, Rosie O’Donnell, Patricia Heaton, Dan Bucatinsky and Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Since it was posted late last week, the petition has received over 1,000 signatures, not just from New Yorkers, but nationwide.
Mr. Rudetsky and Mr. Wesley’s plea resulted from their suddenly stymied efforts to adopt a child out of the New York City foster system. They received adoptive parent training from New York Council on Adoptable Children (COAC) and had just been assigned a social worker so they could adopt when they were told that the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) had eliminated all funding to COAC. They then found out ACS had also cut funding to You Gotta Believe, an agency whose mission is to find homes for the most difficult to place foster children; those who are 16-21 years old. They placed a petition on Change.org to be submitted to Mayor de Blasio, which has galvanized a growing movement.
In addition to the notable celebrities listed above, many people with experience in the NYC foster care system have signed as well:
I was trained by You Gotta Believe to become an adoptive parent after attempting to work with several city agencies who didn't return my calls and emails, bounced my wife and I around from worker to worker, and seemed uninterested in our desire to foster children in NYC. It took a year of getting bounced back and forth for us to give up and Google an agency for ourselves to work with. You Gotta Believe answered our email on the first day, called that night and spent an hour on the phone answering questions, and has never once wavered in their commitment to matching children with families. It is unlike any city child welfare agency in existence, in their love of children AND their follow through and excellence in navigating red tape. Don't let You Gotta Believe disappear, because with it will be the dream of forever homes for thousands of city kids not being served by anyone else!
I'm the adoptive mother of three sons so I personally know the importance of COAC and YGB. Both organizations have had a big impact on my life. Two years ago YGB supported me through the adoption of a severely developmentally delayed, medically fragile teen and continue to provide me with support as needed. It was a recruiter at COAC who originally bought my future son to my attention and made me aware that this young man desperately needed a family. If not for COAC and YGB, my son would have aged out of the system and remained in a medical facility without a mother to give him the love that every child deserves and that no institution can ever provide. We all need COAC and YGB. Ms. Carrion is mistaken – this will be a huge loss.
Seth Rudetsky and James Welsley’s Change.org Plea and Petition:
There are over 1,300 kids in foster care in New York City foster who are available to be adopted right now. However, Mayor De Blasio’s administration has just made it a lot harder for them to find their permanent home. When a child hits 8-10 years old, they are deemed “special needs.” Not because of medical issues, but because most adoptive parents only want babies or toddlers, so the chances for these children to get adopted drastically drops the older they get. Many of these kids will reach age 21 and never be adopted. These kids will spend their young lives in and out of foster homes and then become adults without the family safety net most of us take for granted–no family to call and share in the joy when something good happens to them, no one to call to help them out if they’re in trouble, no family to overeat with at Thanksgiving.
The majority of kids that are ready to be adopted right now are older and, sadly, there are over 700 kids in New York City alone on the verge of aging out. What is being done about them?
Well, New York City was working on the solution when it partnered with two organizations that specialize in bringing foster kids together with families ready to adopt them.
The organizations – the Council on Adoptable Children (COAC), and You Gotta Believe – worked with kids, some of which had been moved in and out of over 25 foster homes in their young lives, to match them up with parents.
But that solution has now gone away, and it will be enormously more difficult to find these kids permanent families.
On March 31st, Mayor de Blasio’s leadership at the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) decided to end those partnerships and make it much more difficult for both foster kids and their potential adoptive parents to come together. ACS claims that adoption from foster care can just as effectively be handled through foster care agencies, but foster care agencies are not adoption agencies. Foster care agencies place kids in foster homes on a temporary basis and the majority of these kids are moved from place to place until one day they age out.
James and I were among the last parents to be trained by COAC before we suddenly found out they lost their contract with the city on March 31. We called ACS. They told us that there are many other agencies that could help us. Really? We began calling some of those foster care agencies. Each organization they referred us to told us that they were in the business of fostering, not adoption. Yes, they could help, but in a very limited way. They also expressed their dismay at this loss of COAC and You Gotta Believe.
We realized quickly that ACS abruptly ended a solution with NO PLAN to take its place.
Then we watched a harsh video from the March 17th committee hearing at the New York City Council when the ACS commissioner, Gladys Carrion, announced she was canceling the contract with COAC and You Gotta Believe. When asked about her decision to terminate the city’s partnerships to adopt older foster kids, she coldly remarked, “In my estimation, it wasn’t a great loss” and it is “not a wise stewardship of the city’s money.” Really? These two contracts, designed to help facilitate adoptions, totaled $1.2 million out of the $2.9 BILLION spent each year in New York City for foster care! Once a child is adopted, not only does he/she get a loving home, the financial benefit is that the city doesn’t have to spend any more money on fostering the child. How much does the city pay each year to foster each child? Sometimes up to $140,000 a year!
Once these kids age out, they will be completely on their own. Sadly, many of them become homeless or live their lives on public assistance. I was never good at math (I literally got a 50 in geometry!) but it seems that expending a small amount of tax dollars now to get these kids adopted and, therefore, prevent long term social welfare costs seems like a very wise stewardship of the city’s money.
Mayor de Blasio needs to reverse ACS leadership’s harsh and wrongful estimation and give these kids and their families an opportunity to come together.
Please sign this petition asking Mayor de Blasio to tell ACS to put back the resources into finding forever homes for kids in foster care, because it’s a great loss whenever any child seeking adoption is prevented from gaining a forever family.
You Gotta Believe! and the Council on Adoptable Children (COAC) had partnered with New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services, working to bring older children in foster care together with loving parents seeking to open their families and provide a forever home.
Last month, ACS ended those partnerships with no plans to offer an easy alternative for city foster kids.
Every year, nearly 25,000 kids age out of foster care in the U.S. – with the overwhelming number left on their own to make it into adulthood without the safety net of a forever family to provide the security and comfort most of us have taken for granted.
Throughout the country, kids who age out of foster care without a forever home and family are more likely to encounter homelessness, poverty and even jail.
In New York City, there are about 1,300 kids waiting to be adopted right now. There are an additional 700+ kids on the verge of aging out alone—many of whom were deemed ‘unadoptable’ by the system long ago. As each day goes by, they are one day closer to being pushed out onto their own without a family safety net unless an adoption takes place.
Letter to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio:
Dear Mayor de Blasio:
Right now in New York City, there are about 1,300 kids in foster care who are asking for a chance to be adopted into permanent, loving forever families. At the same time, there are many potential parents in New York City who are asking for the chance to open their hearts and their homes, and adopt these kids into their families forever. Recently, however, the leadership of the Administration for Children’s Services decided to end New York City’s relationship with the only partners who have helped these children find adoptive families: The Council on Adoptable Children and You Gotta Believe.
find permanent families. As the ACS Commissioner recently told the City Council, “In my estimation, it wasn’t a great loss.” As the amount of money saved by finding adoptive families for older children from the Foster Care system more than offsets the cost of partnerships like these, this decision is just plain wrong.
We urge you to stand up for both these kids seeking permanent, loving families, as well as their potential parents, by reversing ACS’s decision and directing its leadership to immediately restore funding to allow potential parents to open their hearts and homes, and make sure kids who want one a forever home will have the opportunity to have one. New York City can, as it has on so many issues, become a national leader in standing up for every kid who wants a family. If you allow ACS leadership’s decision to stand, that will truly be the great loss.
1,000 Supporters & Growing
Contact: James Wesley, firstname.lastname@example.org, 917-903-1348.
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