Step Nine: Family Court Decides
Decisions made in Family Court can separate children and families for a month or a year – or for life.
Parents' custodial rights can be terminated (or surrendered) and new families created by adoption. Children may be ordered to remain in foster care for up to a year at a time, with annual reviews and renewals, if Court officials see fit, and may be placed in new foster homes if a placement is found wanting. Children who suffer abuse can be granted orders of protection, culminating in a final order of protection of two to five years' duration, which expires on the child's 18th birthday. Most children return home – although a small fraction surface again in the child welfare matrix, as the subject of new charges of abuse or neglect.
ACS invests nearly $300 million a year in adoption services, with an official "goal of adoption" for nearly 4,600 children – a little more than a third of all city children in foster care, according to 2009 data. In 2009, 1,344 kids were actually adopted. Most were younger than 9 years old.
For a full copy of our step-by-step guide, go to http://www.citylimits.org/multimedia/362/the-process-of-protection