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Press Release

April 21, 2003

Administration For Children’s Services Asks New Yorkers To Focus On Child Safety During Child Abuse Awareness Month

ACS Produces Child Safety Video for Distribution in Partnership with Health and Hospitals Corporation; Department of Education Highlighted as Critical Partner in Reporting and Preventing Future Instances of Child Abuse and Neglect

New York City Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) Commissioner William C. Bell today reminded New Yorkers that child safety is critical to the prevention of child abuse and neglect. As part of the agency’s efforts during Child Abuse Awareness Month, ACS has produced a child safety video that aims to educate parents and caregivers on preventing tragedies. The announcement was made at the Women’s Health Clinic at Metropolitan Hospital Center in Manhattan, a facility run by Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) which will team with ACS to distribute the video throughout the five boroughs.

Commissioner Bell was joined by Dr. Marie Casalino, Assistant Vice President of HHC’s Office of Child and Adolescent Health, and Dianne Morales, Director of Youth Development and Student Support at the New York City Department of Education. New York State Office of Children and Family Services Assistant Commissioner Gail Hallerdin was also on hand to present ACS with a proclamation from Governor George E. Pataki in recognition of Child Abuse Awareness Month.

“ACS relies heavily on education to empower parents and caregivers in the prevention of certain dangerous situations,” said Commissioner Bell. “ACS investigates more than 55,000 reports of alleged abuse and neglect each year and a number of these cases could be avoided simply through education and awareness. By teaming with HHC and the Department of Education to reach communities throughout the five boroughs, we aim to educate all New Yorkers about how they can help ACS fulfill our commitment to protect the city’s children.”

ACS’s child safety video, titled, “A Life to Love,” is slated for wide release in early summer 2003 and features tips on the following issues: the hazards of leaving children unattended in a bath or a car; the importance of window guards; Shaken Baby Syndrome; Sudden Infant Death Syndrome; car seat usage; stairwell gates; cabinet safety latches and other protective devices. ACS will partner with HHC to distribute more than 20,000 copies of “A Life to Love” to new parents, caregivers and health- and social service-related organizations throughout the city.

"The Health and Hospitals Corporation is dedicated to providing the highest quality of health care to the city's infants, children and adolescents,” said Dr. Casalino. “Educating parents, caregivers and communities about the importance of injury prevention is an integral part of this care. This new child safety campaign will help us in our efforts to provide information on decreasing high-risk behaviors and creating safe environments for our most vulnerable population."

The Health and Hospitals Corporation is a $4.3 billion public benefit corporation that operates acute care hospitals, four skilled nursing facilities, six diagnostic and treatment centers, over 100 community health clinics, a certified home health agency and a health maintenance organization (HMO), MetroPlus. HHC also provides health services in the City's correctional facilities, homeless shelters and public schools.

The New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) sets and enforces policies for foster care, adoption, child protective services, juvenile rehabilitative services, positive youth development and childcare services throughout the State. OCFS regulates and monitors the local social services districts, such as New York City, which provide services at the local level. OCFS also maintains the New York State Central Register, the authority that logs allegations of child abuse and maltreatment.

The City’s Department of Education is also an important partner in the fight against child abuse and neglect. As mandated reporters to the State Central Register, school officials are required by law to identify suspected abused and neglected children as soon as possible in order to protect them from further harm. Public school teachers and administrators currently interact with 1.1 million children every weekday. More than 60 percent of the approximate 26,000 children in foster care in New York City are school age.

“Nothing is more important than the safety of our children,” said Schools Chancellor Joel Klein. “The Department of Education will continue to work closely with ACS to provide schoolchildren with a safe, nurturing learning environment both in school and at home.”

ACS developed a curriculum on recognizing and reporting child abuse and neglect that is now used to train mandated reporters in all New York City public schools. In addition, ACS holds borough-wide trainings for school personnel who are mandated reporters, including attendance teachers, counselors, principals, social workers, special education personnel, school nurses, superintendents, clinicians, physical therapist, family paraprofessionals and therapists serving special needs children.

“As adults and community members, we have a responsibility to protect the safety of our most vulnerable citizens -- our children,” continued Commissioner Bell. “ACS’s mission is to ensure the safety and well being of all the children in New York City. We can only do this job effectively with the partnership of the Department of Education and others in the community who are committed to recognizing and reporting abuse and neglect.”

“A Life to Love” was produced by the ACS Video Unit and was made possible by the Casey Foundation under a grant through the New Yorkers For Children New York City Family Fund. New Yorkers interested in obtaining a copy of the video when it is ready for release can call 311.

To report suspected child abuse or neglect, call the New York State Central Register at 1-800-342-3720.

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.


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