The Administration for Children’s Services today announced that six foster care agencies which have been under review since February have demonstrated their ability to make the necessary performance improvements and have therefore successfully completed their reviews. Children’s Services will work with each of these agencies to ensure that the improvement plans they have developed achieve the desired results.
The review is part of Children’s Services’ realignment of the City’s child welfare system, an initiative designed to strengthen services for children in care, limit the use of institutions, and safely continue the City’s historic reduction of the number of children in foster care.
The agencies that have successfully completed the review by ACS are:
- Edwin Gould Services for Children
- Family Support Systems Unlimited
- Harlem Dowling Westside Center
- HeartShare Human Services of New York
- Little Flower Children’s Services of New York
- Lutheran Social Services.
Earlier this month, ACS announced that two other agencies had successfully moved from the review list: Community Counseling & Mediation, and Protestant Board of Guardians, both Brooklyn-based providers. ACS had expedited the review process for both agencies because they were new, had only had a two-year-history of providing foster care services, and had argued that their assessment had been affected by performance scores garnered during their first year of operation. In both cases, the scores had improved in the second year.
The review process is still under way for two additional programs: Child Development Support Corporation of Brooklyn, and ACS’s Brooklyn Direct Foster Care Services.
The agencies that were under review received lower scores on average over the four-year-history
of Children’s Services’ EQUIP evaluation system. In the review process, Children’s Services
looked at these agencies’ infrastructure, operations, programs, leadership, management, finances and community ties. The six agencies demonstrated both a commitment and the capacity to improve their foster care programs.
“This process has resulted in a positive outcome for everyone – the agencies, the community, and, most importantly, for children and families,” said Children’s Services Commissioner John B. Mattingly. “We know that these agencies are deeply committed to serving the children in their care, and we believe they are both willing and able to improve the quality of that care in the future. We respect the hard work they do every day to help families and to keep children safe. We are dedicated to supporting them throughout this improvement effort.”
“At the same time,” Commissioner Mattingly said, “we are moving forward on our efforts to reinvest the funds we’ve saved through the declining foster care census into support programs to strengthen families, reduce the length of stays in care, and to provide follow-up services to children when they leave care.”
The number of children in the City’s foster care system has decreased to 18,900 today from a high of 50,000 in 1991. The system’s remarkable turnaround has put pressure on contract agencies as they’ve had to cope with the effect of declining revenues. Over the past 18 months, ACS has made a number of significant moves to strengthen and realign the system in the face of these systemic changes. These efforts include:
- Investing $27 million in city, state and federal funds into preventive care to decrease the likelihood that children will need to come into foster care, as well as for support programs for children who have been returned to their families.
- Raising the performance-based reimbursement rates for higher-performing agencies that provide foster boarding home and congregate care.
- Expanding programs to help children and families leaving the foster care system, with special support for teens. These programs will be designed to aid and follow children wherever they go, whether it’s reunification with their families, adoption or other permanency situations.
- The termination of two major foster boarding home contracts with lower-performing providers: Miracle Makers, Inc., and St. Christopher’s, Inc.;
- Closing ACS’s Bronx Direct Foster Care Services program;
- Reassigning approximately 2,000 children from low-performing programs to higher performing ones.
Separately, Pius XII Youth & Family Services announced plans to discontinue its foster boarding home program which served 304 children in several Bronx neighborhoods. Those cases will be transferred to nearby, high-performing agencies in accordance with ACS’s commitment to neighborhood-centered support for children and families.