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Press Release

December 19, 2002

ACS Commissioner William C. Bell and Domestic Violence Commissioner Yolanda Jimenez Remind Families of City Resources Available to Them During the Holidays

New York City Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) Commissioner William C. Bell and Yolanda B. Jimenez, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence, today reminded parents, families and caregivers of the subsidized City resources that are available to them during times of stress. The announcement was made at New York Foundling’s Family Crisis Center in Manhattan.

“The holidays are a joyful time but can also be a stressful time for any family, especially those with young children in the home. It is important for parents to remember during these times that help is available to them through ACS,” said Commissioner Bell. “ACS’s goal is to strengthen families and ensure that children have a safe and stable home environment. Through community-based preventive services, ACS aims to keep families together when appropriate by offering support within the home before problems become insurmountable.”

For example, ACS offers preventive services including:

  • Community-based preventive services, such as crisis intervention, individual and family counseling, parenting skills training and referrals to public assistance, day care and other subsidized programs.
  • Family Preservation Program – Provides six- to eight-week crisis intervention and family preservation services through specially trained workers who are assigned only two families at a time. Volunteer mentors work with the family intensively for up to 20 hours a week to provide further support.
  • Family Rehabilitation Program – Serves families in which a parental substance abuse problem exists; family must have at least one child under six years old.

For more information regarding these services, parents can call ACS’s Prevention and Parent Helpline at 1-800-342-7472.

Through five contract agencies, ACS also offers respite care programs that provide families with brief and temporary care for children. Respite care is not foster care, as parents participating in these programs are not involved in child protective investigations and must resume care of their child. Parents with children from birth to 17 years of age may benefit from respite care for at least 24 hours and up to 30 consecutive days. Respite care is provided in the
homes of specially trained, certified foster parents who provide short-term care for children who remain in the custody of their parents or legal guardians. ACS offers more than 100 beds of respite care citywide. For more information, parents can call 1-800-342-7472.

In addition, ACS offers respite care for younger children with special medical needs through New York Foundling’s Crisis Center. In its 20th year of service as New York City’s first respite care program, the Family Crisis Center includes a nursery with five cribs and five beds for children up to age 11. Children may stay at the center for up to three days as their parents address various crisis situations that cause stress. New York Foundling’s Family Crisis Center also operates a 24-hour parent helpline, 1-888-HELP553, which is staffed by social workers who connect parents with appropriate counseling and community-based services.

New or expectant parents who are struggling with a decision of whether they want to keep their child should also know that they have options. Through community-based preventive services, ACS can help parents identify appropriate pre- and post-delivery counseling. Parents may also contact a private adoption agency in New York City to discuss placing their baby for adoption. Finally, parents should be aware of the City’s safe abandonment program under the Abandoned Infant Protection Act, a state law that shields parents from criminal prosecution if they abandon infants in a safe, suitable location or with an appropriate person. Enacted in 2000, the law is designed to prevent the tragedies that occur when infants are abandoned by despondent or desperate parents. Safe locations include firehouses, hospitals, crisis nurseries, schools or the home of a responsible individual. Parents must promptly notify an appropriate person of the child’s location and act with the intent that the child be safe from physical injury.

“During this peaceful, but often stress-filled time of year, the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence encourages individuals, neighbors, friends and family members to increase their awareness about domestic violence before a crisis occurs,” said Commissioner Jimenez. “Reach out to the City’s 24-hour domestic violence crisis hotline and call the police if necessary to bring safety to your home. Men, women, teenagers and senior citizens facing domestic violence must know that they are not alone. There are social workers and others trained to provide the support you need, when you need it. We ask you to reach out before it is too late.”

Fourteen city agencies provide direct emergency and non-emergency services to men, women, teenagers and the elderly confronting domestic violence. By contacting the City’s 24-hour crisis hotline at 1-800-621-HOPE, individuals can find emergency shelter, one-on-one counseling services and referrals to a number of non-residential support services. Specially trained domestic violence police officers respond to incidents and follow up on domestic violence cases. The City’s public hospitals have full-time domestic violence social workers on staff and the Department for the Aging operates a resource hotline for victims of elder abuse.

The Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence monitors the delivery of domestic violence services by city agencies; formulates policies and programs; and works with diverse communities to raise awareness, hold batterers accountable and ultimately eliminate the scourge of domestic violence from New York City. The City has made great progress in reducing the rates of domestic violence. As of December 8, 2002, domestic violence murder, rape and felony assaults decreased by 17.3 percent since last year. However, by December 16, 2002, 70 men, women and children lost their lives to family-related violence – 12 percent of all New York City homicides. In 2001, the New York Police Department responded to more than 230,000 domestic violence incidents. The New York City domestic violence hotline answers more than 425 crisis calls each day.

The New York City Administration for Children’s Services protects and ensures the safety and well being of New York City’s children and strengthens families. Formed in 1996, the agency oversees the City’s programs of child protection, foster care, preventive services, adoption, child support enforcement, childcare and Head Start.


Contact:
ACS Press Office
Phone: 212-341-0999
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