New York's laws on the rights of a child in temporary foster care.

Understanding the Protections for Children in Temporary Foster Care in New York

In New York State, the welfare and rights of children placed in temporary foster care are governed by a robust legal framework that ensures their safety, well-being, and the preservation of their fundamental rights. The Family Court Act (FCA) and Social Services Law (SSL) provide the statutory basis for these rights, which are implemented with the intention of fostering a safe, loving, and supportive environment for children who have been separated from their parents.

One of the cornerstones of this legal framework is the 'best interests of the child' standard, which mandates that all decisions regarding foster care placements must prioritize the child's health, safety, and emotional needs. This principle is applied in court hearings and by agencies overseeing child welfare.

Right to Stability and Family Connection

Children in temporary foster care in New York have the right to stability in their living situations. The state strives to minimize disruptions to their education and social life by keeping them in their home community whenever possible. Moreover, maintaining family connections is considered critical; thus, siblings placed in foster care are kept together unless it is not in their best interest.

Right to Health and Education

New York law ensures that children in temporary foster care have access to healthcare, including medical, dental, and mental health services. They also have the right to an education that is on par with their non-foster peers. Foster care agencies work with local school districts to facilitate school enrollment and address any special educational needs a child might have.

Participation in Court Proceedings

Children who are old enough to understand the proceedings have the right to be heard in court. They can express their wishes regarding placement and visitation through a law guardian or attorney appointed to represent their interests.

Safety and Non-Discrimination

The state takes measures to protect children from abuse and neglect while in foster care. Non-discrimination policies ensure that no child is subjected to unfair treatment based on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or disability.

Historical Context: The Case of Wilder v. Bernstein

An example that underscores New York's commitment to foster children's rights is the landmark case Wilder v. Bernstein. This 1984 federal lawsuit addressed systemic racial discrimination and inequities within New York City's child welfare system. The resulting consent decree led to significant reforms aimed at providing equitable services for all children in foster care.


New York's laws on the rights of a child in temporary foster care are designed to safeguard these vulnerable members of society during a period of significant upheaval in their lives. By upholding these rights, the state demonstrates its dedication to providing children with a nurturing environment until they can be reunited with their families or placed in a permanent home.