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(New York Times) — New York City is no longer allowed to keep troubled foster-carechildren in psychiatric hospitals after doctors have recommended their release, and must closely adhere to laws that require such children to be placed in the least restrictive setting possible, after reaching a settlement agreement in federal court last week.

The agreement came less than a year after a class action lawsuit was filed against the Administration for Children’s Services, which oversees the care of nearly 15,000 foster children in the city. The suit, filed in United States District Court in Brooklyn, alleged that the agency confined children in psychiatric hospitals for prolonged periods, sometimes when there was no need for them to be in the hospital at all, and that it used the hospitals “as if they are detention centers.”

Under the terms of the settlement, the city agreed to issue mandatory guidelines regarding children who are admitted to psychiatric hospitals, to track and monitor the children and to provide training for city employees and their counterparts at contract foster-care agencies who make the hospital referrals.

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