Fostering Success for Youth in
Administration for Children's Services (ACS) Commissioner, John Mattingly
pledged continued commitment to improving the experiences of children and young
people in foster care. The occasion was the first conference on "Fostering
Success for Children and Youth in Foster Care" held on Tuesday, June 22, at the
ACS Children's Center in Manhattan.
Panelists and presenters from left, Lauren
Frey, Imani Brammer, Kimberly Cortorreal, Virginia Vitzthum, Anne Reinger, Dr.
Katherine Teets Grimm, and Deborah Brooks.
The conference, which was sponsored by the New York Center
for Children in association with Prevent Child Abuse
America and ACS with funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, focused on
best practice model programs and approaches that are successfully providing
essential support to children in foster care. The conference chairs were Dr.
Katherine Teets Grimm, Medical Director, New York Center for Children, and Anne
Reiniger, Past Chair, Prevent Child Abuse America.
In his welcome to the participants, Commissioner Mattingly said, "the system
has been moving forward, but we still have a long way to go. We are still
trying to make sure that our frontline workers are committed, well trained and
well supervised. The key to our work is good practice. This is too
important a job, and we will stick with it. That is my commitment to the
children and families of New York City."
Commissioner Mattingly addressing the
NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio also attended the conference and said the
City must protect and fund preventive services, calling it the "single most
important thing we can do to support the work of everyone in the child welfare
community." He commended Commissioner Mattingly and Children's Services
for improving the agency and for being a partner in working for children and
families in New York City.
Keynote speaker, Richard R. Buery, Jr., President and Chief Executive Officer
of the Children's Aid Society, supported de Blasio's call for more emphasis on
preventive services. He said for the system to move forward, more
resources should be put into helping families before ACS involvement and before
the family is in crisis.
A panel discussion which followed the opening session focused on successful
programs for youth in foster care and addressed issues such as placement
stability, educational and mental health needs, youth engagement, creative
outlets for children and youth in care, financial security, and preparation for
transition to successful adulthood after care. The panelists were Lauren
Frey, Project Director of Permanency Services, Casey Family Services; Meara
Beirne, Therapist, the New York Center for Children; Deborah Brooks, Project
Lead, ACS Youth Financial Empowerment program; Gwendy Fuentes, Support Services
Coordinator, Mott Haven Academy Charter School; Jodi A. Saitowitz, Director,
Bridges to Health, ACS; Virginia Vitzthum, Editor, Represent magazine; and
foster care youth, Kimberly Cortorreal.
Participants included over 200 professionals, including foster care agency
caseworkers and staff, preventive and child protective workers, doctors, nurses,
social workers, teachers, guidance counselors, lawyers, child advocates, and
child care professionals.