NYC Administration for Children's Services
NYC Administration for
Six Years of Reform
in Children’s Services 96 200
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg
1996-2002 Reform Update Commissioner William C. Bell
The new ACS Children’s Center, which opened in Manhattan in 2001 after a $67 million landmark
renovation, has enabled ACS to provide a state of the art facility to serve children and train child
protective staff. The building offers children entering the foster care system a welcoming, friend-
ly and comforting atmosphere and a range of services. The Center is also home to the Satterwhite
Training Academy, where caseworkers receive upgraded training in a modern training center. The
building is the citywide operations center for the Emergency Children’s Services, whose staff
respond to and investigate overnight and weekend reports of abuse and neglect. Designed by
McKim, Mead & White as part of the Bellevue Hospital complex, the landmark building is listed
on the National Register of Historic Places.
ef Six Years of Reform
in Children’s Services
1996-2002 Reform Update
he Administration for Children’s Services is far better managed
“ than its predecessors; it has committed itself to policies,
such as neighborhood-based services, that are in line with
the best national thinking about child welfare reform; it has added substan-
tial resources in critically needed areas; it is far better able than ever before
to hold accountable private not-for-profit agencies, which provide the large
majority of foster care and related services; and it is undertaking promising
changes, such as the widespread use of family case conferences, to strength-
en front-line practice. Mayor Bloomberg’s appointment of William Bell, who
has played a central role in the system’s progress over the past six years, as
the new ACS Commissioner, encourages us, and many other observers, to
believe that these important efforts can serve as a foundation for even
greater accomplishment in the future. ” — Concluding Report of the
Special Child Welfare Advisory Panel
March 18, 2002
What They’re Saying About
Reform at ACS...
“For the first time in two decades, it is safe to say that the child welfare agency
is making major progress…Sound administration and compassionate leader-
ship have replaced the chaos that existed before ACS was separated from the
city’s vast Human Resources Administration in 1996…ACS’ reinvention means
that fewer young lives are being placed in jeopardy. Even if it’s only one little life,
that’s worth cheering.”
—Daily News editorial “Saving the Children”
December 8, 1999
“We believe that ACS has engaged over the past several years in a sustained,
intelligent effort to change a complicated and difficult system… The record of
accomplishment already compiled by ACS should be the public’s best evidence
that it can demand further change with confidence that it can be accomplished.”
—Final Report of the
Special Child Welfare Advisory Panel
December 8, 2000
“Recent reforms by the Administration for Children’s Services have helped
to reduce the median length of a child’s stay in foster care... Adoptions have
increased in the past three years. Equally significant is the drop in new admis-
sions to foster care in the past year, suggesting that caseworkers
are making better assessments about the need to remove a child from a trou-
bled family. Caseworkers are now given more training, and more families are
being offered counseling services so that children can stay home.”
—New York Times
December 7, 1999
A New Phase of Reform
he road to reforming New York City’s children’s
services system began in January 1996 with the
establishment of the Administration for
Children’s Services (ACS).
For the first time in the City’s history, all child protec-
tive, foster care, adoption, child support and child care
services were placed in one, independent agency, with
its own budget, management structure and vision for
In just six short years, ACS transformed a child welfare system that was
deeply flawed. A panel of five national child welfare experts cited “remarkable
progress” and noted that ACS had done more to transform itself into a mod-
ern, compassionate system than any other such child welfare agency in the
Now the new City administration led by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and
the new leadership team at ACS have embarked on an ambitious second
phase of reform. During this phase, ACS will continue to build a strong and
effective neighborhood based children’s services delivery system across our
City. We will continue to expand preventive services and child care initiatives
so families can get the support they need and children can remain safely at
home when appropriate. And we will also continue to support our ACS staff
with better training, supervision and career opportunities. Above all, we will
continue to protect the children of New York City.
This booklet highlights many of the remarkable accomplishments that
ACS staff and our contract agency partners have achieved over the past six
years. I am proud of them and grateful to Mayor Bloomberg for his support
During the past year, we have faced tremendous challenges. But New York
City’s spirit remains strong. Most important, we are united like never before in
our goal to better serve families and children in every community across our
William C. Bell, Commissioner
The Road to Reform Leads
he child welfare reform effort with hundreds of representatives from
got under way when Mayor every stakeholder group in the system.
Rudolph Giuliani established They included parents, foster parents,
the Administration for Children’s contract agency staff, youth, specialists
Services (ACS) in January 1996 and from other service systems and state
named Nicholas Scoppetta as and federal agencies.
Commissioner of the City’s first inde- Out of this collaborative effort
pendent agency to serve and protect came a plan that builds upon the first
the children of New York. ACS reform blueprint. It focuses on
Remarkable progress has been four key themes:
achieved since then but much more
■ Building effective Neighborhood
remains to be done. Under the leader-
Networks throughout the City
ship of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg
involving families, schools,
and Commissioner William C. Bell, the
churches, hospitals and communi-
road to reform continues and a new
phase is underway in the neighbor-
hoods of our city. ■ Acting with greater urgency
ACS’s vision for future reform is out- around family engagement and
lined in A Renewed Plan of Action for permanency for children.
the Administration for Children’s ■ Implementing systems of quality
Services published in July 2001. The improvement in all ACS programs
plan was developed during a two-day and using data to measure perfor-
conference in 2001 attended by two mance and support programs.
hundred ACS staff who worked closely
ACS NEIGHBORHOOD NETWORKS SCHOOLS
Into Your Neighborhood
■ Providing affordable, quality ■ Adolescent Services: Improve
child care and integrating child the system’s approach to adoles-
care programs into ACS cents and expand services for
Neighborhood Networks. them.
In developing the new reform ■ Placement: Develop policies to
plan, ACS also focused on eight ini- minimize the trauma to children
tiatives which, among others, were during the foster care placement
considered to be critical in further process.
reforming the children’s services
■ Clinical Services: Ensure that
system. They are:
clinical considerations are inte-
■ Preventive Services: Continue grated into case practice.
the growth and development of
■ Contractor Performance:
effective preventive services to
Integrate administrative data
strengthen families and keep
into the quality improvement
and planning process of contract
■ Family Court: Improve Family agency management.
Court processes to expedite per-
■ Training: Ensure a well-trained
manency for children.
children’s services staff and pro-
■ Family Team Conferencing: vide opportunities for greater
Maximize the value of conferenc- collaboration between program
ing by partnering with families, areas.
communities and contract
FAITH-BASED ORGANIZATIONS FAMILIES COMMUNITY PARTNERS
At ACS, we protect children
by investigating every report
of abuse and neglect . . .
Number of Abuse and Neglect Reports
and Number of Children in Reports
1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001
Unfounded Reports** Indicated Reports** Children in Reports
** If there is no evidence of abuse or neglect, the report is considered
“unfounded.” If there is evidence, it is “indicated.” Approximately
one-third of the reports from the last three years were indicated.
and we serve families through
ACS Neighborhood Networks.
New York City 12
Community Districts 7
Pelham Pkwy. BRONX
9 9 Throgs Neck
10 Hunts Point
Harlem Mott Haven
E. Harlem 7
West Side Flushing Bayside
11 1 3 13
Astoria Jackson Hts Queens
Upper Elmhurst 8
East Side 2 Fresh Meadows
5 9 12
6 1 Ridgewood
Murray Woodhaven Jamaica
2 Hill 4
Greenwich Bushwick 10
Village Howard Beach
Lower Fort 3
1 East Side Greene Bedford
Battery Park Slope
8 5 14
N. Crown Heights 16 E. New York
S. Crown Heights
As part of its goal to make all of its services neighborhood-
based, ACS has established Neighborhood Networks represent-
Tottenville ing all of the City’s 59 community districts. Families and children
now have a range of services available in their communities,
including child care, parenting skills training, counseling, sub-
stance abuse programs, anger management courses and edu-
cation and recreation programs.
We’ve lowered caseloads for
caseworkers and supervisors . . .
# OF Average Child Protective
CASES Worker/Supervisor Caseload
1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001
and raised salaries and
Old vs. New Salaries
for Protective Caseworkers
Start 0.5 1.5 2 2.5 4.5 6.5 8.5 10.5
YEARS ON THE JOB
INCREASED STANDARDS. In 1998, New York City created the first civil
service positions specifically designed for child welfare workers. The new
positions require tougher eligibility standards, carry higher salaries, award
merit increases based on performance and require caseworkers to work
toward a Masters of Social Work (MSW) or equivalent degree in order to be
promoted to supervisory levels. ACS also established an annual $3 million
scholarship program that provides full tuition for up to 200 employees each
year to work toward an MSW degree.
2002 1 002 0002 999 1 899 1 7991 699 1 5991 499 1 3991
000 0 1
07 23 ,
Children in Foster Care
of children in foster care . . .
We’ve lowered the number
and increased preventive
services to children.
Number of Children Receiving
28,872 29,138 29,145
1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002*
By referring more families to agencies that provide preventive services such
as counseling, parenting skills training and substance abuse programs, ACS
ensures that children are placed into foster care only when they cannot
remain safely at home.
*Figure as of July 2002
We’ve reduced the number of
children entering foster care
each year . . .
Number of Children
Entering Foster Care
1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002
and almost doubled the
number of adoptions.
1990 - 1995 1996 - 2001
We’ve doubled child support
payments . . .
Child Support Collections
1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001
and we’re educating tens
of thousands in child care
Day Care Enrollment*
1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001
Head Start Enrollment*
1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001
*Total number of children receiving services during the June reporting period.
ACS Service Directory
If a child is in immediate danger, call 911.
To report child abuse or neglect, call:
New York State Central Register Child Abuse & Maltreatment Hotline
Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To learn more about becoming
All calls are confidential. a foster or adoptive parent, call:
General Public . . . . . . 1-800-342-3720 ACS Parent Recruitment
Outside NY State . . . . 1-518-474-8740 Hotline . . . . . . . . 212-676-WISH (9474)
TDD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1-800-638-5163
To learn about child care
For information or help, call: or Head Start, call:
Prevent Child Abuse New York
ACS Agency for Child Development
Prevention Information (ACD) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 718-FOR-KIDS
& Parent Hotline . . . . . 1-800-342-7472 (718-367-5437)
To request an ACS representative To inquire about Neighborhood
to speak in your neighborhood Networks in your borough, call:
about child abuse awareness and
prevention, call: Bronx . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 212-227-6501
Brooklyn . . . . . . . . . . . . .212-341-2913
ACS Office of Community Planning
and Development . . . . . 212-341-3060 Manhattan . . . . . . . . . . . .212-341-2910
Advocacy/Parents and Children’s Rights Queens . . . . . . . . . . . . . .212-341-2909
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 212-676-9421 Staten Island . . . . . . . . . .212-227-6376
Administration for Children’s Services (ACS)
150 William Street • New York, NY 10038
1-877-KIDS-NYC (1-877-543-7692) • www.nyc.gov/acs
*Toll-free number provided courtesy of Wendy’s Restaurants in the Tri-State area
Design: Sarah Sills • Photography: Kali Holloway
“ ver the past years, ACS has had a
series of remarkable achieve-
ments…[Some changes] go beyond what we
have seen leaders able to accomplish in
virtually any other child welfare system.
—Special Child Welfare Advisory Panel
quoted in Daily News
March 21, 2000
Produced by the ACS Office of Communications
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