Despite the gray and rainy afternoon, Mayoral Candidate Kathryn Garcia gathered outside of Kings County Family Court downtown Brooklyn on Monday, April 12 to draw attention to the city’s negligent and systemically racist foster care system. An issue, she said, that is very deeply personal for her and her adopted family.
Garcia was joined by her adopted brother, Matthew McIver, foster care advocates of You Gotta Believe (YGB) organization, and Assemblymember David Weprin (D-Queens).
“I was adopted as a baby by my parents, a labor negotiator, and a teacher. My mom wanted a big family. So not long after me, my brother Matthew was also adopted and a few years later. I got my little girl’s dream, a big sister,” began Garcia.
Garcia, who’s from Brooklyn, said her family was unique at that time in the 70s for adopting two children of color.
“We need to root out systemic racism, prioritize permanent placements, and guarantee housing for every child through the age of 25 and target the structural issues that result in families separation in the first place,” said Garcia. “Let us be clear that the over-representation of Black and Latino children in the foster care system is a direct result of how the system is designed. The city must implement a race blind process for determining when a child should be removed from their home.”
Garcia said that a race-blind process would limit the harmful effects of implicit bias against Black and Brown families.
Garcia said as mayor she going to call for reforms and repairs to the foster care system to fight against these harmful perceptions, and also create and financially support more ”forever homes” for young adults who age out of homes they were placed in. She wants to raise the age limit for aging out from 21 to 25.
Garcia said that as mayor she would allocate also funds to support nonprofits like YGB, but doesn’t have a specific dollar amount at the moment.
Weprin, who is currently running for City Comptroller, said that strengthening foster care has been a long-time issue for him as well. In 2019, Weprin joined adoptee rights advocates to get the Adoptee Rights bill passed.
“Actually, this bill had been around the legislature for over 50 years. It would basically guarantee the rights of adoptees to access their original birth certificate. For too long New York’s laws denied adult adoptees access to background information and complete health history that nearly everyone has a legal right to including those who age out of foster care,” said Weprin.
Weprin said that Garcia’s plan builds on the momentum to right other wrongs in the child welfare system.