March 17, 2003
Administration for Children’s Services Recognizes National Professional Social Work Month
In March 2003, the New York City Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) joins cities and states across the country in observing the 20th annual National Professional Social Work Month. The month-long observance draws attention to the great contributions that caseworkers from ACS and its contract agencies make every day to lives of the children and families of New York City.
“Social work, across its many facets and forms, has at its root a goal of helping those in need,” said ACS Commissioner William C. Bell. “Social workers may not all be engaged in the same day-to-day struggles, but they are all working toward a common end. In the same way, their efforts to fulfill the child welfare mission of protecting children and strengthening families ultimately has benefits that touch those far beyond the children’s services system.”
In New York City’s children’s services system, social workers in Child Protection carry caseloads of less than 12 per worker, down from about 28 per worker prior to ACS’s creation in 1996. Under the neighborhood based services model, ACS ensures that children and families can access services within their own communities. Caseworkers are consistently assigned cases within a particular neighborhood so that they are better able to understand the needs of the community and the special challenges its children and families might face.
Whether through protective services, such as assessing at-risk families and evaluating a child’s foster placement needs, or through preventive services, such as homemaking and parenting skills, these workers base their approach on a model that begins with an assessment of family strength. Today, children’s services social workers in New York City care for approximately 26,000 children in foster care and more than 30,000 children engaged in preventive services. They also collaborate with various government and community agencies that can offer families other social resources such as mental health, substance abuse and domestic violence.
Professional social workers have played a valuable role in society for more than a century, shaping how public and private organizations serve people in need. According to the National Association of Social Workers, the first social work educational course was offered at Columbia University in 1898. ACS encourages its staff to further their education by earning a Masters of Social Work (MSW), and since 1997, 528 employees have earned their degree.
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, child care and Head Start.