**Disability Benefits Scandal: New York City Under Fire for Misuse of Foster Children’s Funds**

In New York City, years after promised reforms, advocates continue to voice concerns over the city’s practice of keeping federal disability benefits meant for foster youth to cover the costs of their care. The issue has sparked a national conversation around the fair distribution of funds intended for some of the most vulnerable members of society.

One such case involves Julian, a former foster youth who, at 16, found himself back in the system with specific needs due to his blindness. Despite his requests for essential resources like a smart cane and mobility training, Julian faced barriers in accessing the support he required. This experience shed light on a larger problem within the child welfare system, where funds allocated for foster youth often do not directly benefit the children themselves.

The investigation into the matter uncovered that child welfare agencies across the country, including New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), divert federal disability benefits received on behalf of foster children to cover the expenses of foster care. This revelation led to calls for reform and greater transparency in how these funds are managed for the benefit of the youth.

Proposed policy changes by ACS to address the issue faced resistance from experts and advocates, who raised concerns about the agency’s intentions and the impact on disabled foster youth. Critics argued that the current practices fail to prioritize the well-being of the children, emphasizing the importance of ensuring that funds intended for their care are utilized appropriately.

Furthermore, the controversy surrounding the handling of federal benefits for foster youth extends beyond New York City, drawing attention from federal officials and advocates nationwide. The complexities of the issue highlight the need for systemic reforms and a shift towards empowering foster youth with access to their funds for a more secure future.

As the debate continues, former foster youth like Melanie Perez and advocates like attorney Anna Blondell are pushing for policy changes that prioritize the needs and rights of disabled foster youth. Their efforts underscore the importance of addressing systemic challenges within the child welfare system to ensure that every child receives the support and resources they deserve.