In late 2012, New York City launched a massive reform to its juvenile justice system: Rather than sending kids who commit lower-level offenses to Upstate lockups plagued by histories of abuse and failure, the city opened its own network of small, secure residential facilities within the five boroughs and nearby suburbs.
In this ongoing project, we look at the success and challenges of the "Close to Home" reform: Is the program living up to its promise? Are New York City kids better off?
DE BLASIO SERIES: HOW'S HE DOING?
Of the over 20,000 children in homeless shelters, nearly half are under 6 years old. We know from research how crucial the early years are to lifelong development. Yet families now stay an average of over 400 days in city shelters—an eternity for a small child.
The new Child Welfare Watch report describes the stresses that homelessness puts on families with young children, and explores the discontinuity between the large number of young children in the shelter system and the dearth of services available to them. It reveals that currently the most common way for a family in a shelter to receive support for young children is to become known to child welfare authorities—a help that often goes hand-in-hand with the fear that children will be removed to foster care.