Important Notice for Children in Custody of ACS Who Are Admitted to a Psychiatric Hospital: Proposed Settlement in Lawsuit Requires ACS to Monitor Children Admitted to Acute Psychiatric Hospitals, Inform Parents and Attorneys of Hospitalizations, Ensure Family Visits and Ensure Educational Needs Are Met
MONDAY, DECEMBER 13, 2010

In May 2010, The Legal Aid Society's Juvenile Rights Practice along with its co-counsel, Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler, LLP, filed a law suit against the New York City Administration for Children's Services (ACS) for violating the rights of children in its care who were left to remain in acute psychiatric hospitals long after doctors had determined they were ready to be discharge back to their communities, AM v. Mattingly, 10 civ 2181 (EDNY). Shortly thereafter, Judge Cogan of the EDNY certified the following class of children:

Children under the age of 18 who are in the custody of ACS and who are currently admitted or will be brought to and admitted to acute psychiatric hospitals and who, once admitted and deemed ready for discharge, are not moved by ACS and/or one of its contract agencies to the least restrictive setting appropriate to their needs

We are happy to report that we have reached settlement with the city for the above defined class. The injunctive relief for the class provides that ACS promulgate and implement a mandatory policy for its own staff and its foster care contract agencies that would require ACS and its foster care contract agencies to monitor the children in ACS’s care who are admitted to acute psychiatric hospitals, immediately inform the children’s parents and attorneys of any and all hospitalizations, ensure family visits for children, and ensure that the children’s education needs are being met while hospitalized. The policy provides for the creation of a Mental Health Coordination Unit (“MHCU”) which is charged with assisting ACS's foster care contract agencies with the responsibilities described above as well as creating and providing training to ACS’s and its foster care contract agencies’ administrators and staff concerning the prevention of unnecessary psychiatric hospitalization, compliance with state and federal law regarding psychiatric hospitalization, and implementation of a tracking and monitoring system for the children's cases.

Attached here is the Notice to the Class regarding the proposed settlement which includes instructions if you have any questions and/or you wish to contact the court regarding this matter.