Manhattan Institute

When Family Preservation Is Fatal

Dennis Saffran and Seth Barron discuss New York City’s misguided family-reunification policies, which can have fatal consequences for children in distressed homes.

In the Summer 1997 Issue of City Journal, Saffran wrote an article entitled “Fatal Preservation,” which chronicled attempts by New York’s social-services agencies to keep children with their troubled and abusive parents. The policy proved tragic for kids like six-year-old Elisa Izquierdo, killed at the hands of her crack-addicted mother in 1995. Elisa’s mother had regained custody of her daughter over the opposition of relatives and teachers. Too many other New York City children have met similar fates.

More than 20 years later, Saffran finds that, on balance, little has changed. “Many in the social-work establishment, including officials in the administrations of New York City’s last two mayors . . . have remained hostile to [reforms] and committed to the old family-preservation orthodoxy.”

Dennis Saffran is a Queens-based appellate attorney, writer, and former GOP candidate for the New York City Council. He can be reached on Twitter @dennisjsaffran.

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