Children’s Services Commissioner Mattingly Announces Progress on Citywide Child Safety Reforms
ACS Reports Enhancements to Child Safety Practice; InterAgency Task Force on Child Welfare and Safety Addresses Cooperation among City Agencies
Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) Commissioner John B. Mattingly today announced significant progress on a wide-ranging series of child safety reforms initiated after the tragic death of Nixzmary Brown. These reforms are the result of a citywide review and the creation of the Interagency Task Force on Child Welfare and Safety initiated by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. They are designed to establish clearer guidelines for identifying and investigating early instances of potential child abuse and neglect and improve the coordination and performance of City agencies that respond to help children in dangerous situations.
“We are dedicated to doing everything we can to ensure that no child is left alone in this City to suffer from abuse or neglect,” said Commissioner Mattingly. “These systemic reforms go directly to the heart of how we identify, investigate and handle cases of child abuse and neglect. These changes are designed to help us make the most of every single opportunity we have to protect New York City’s children.”
ACS Reforms Include New Weekly Childstat System to Improve Case Practice; Hiring of 20 New Law Enforcement Professionals, Leadership Changes Throughout Field Offices
- ACS has implemented Childstat, a new accountability tool for the assessment and strengthening of child welfare case practice and safety decision-making. Childstat, launched by ACS in June and inspired by the NYPD’s renowned Compstat process, is a weekly, morning-long session during which child protective leaders from each of the City’s 14 geographic zones meet on a rotating basis with top ACS officials to conduct an extensive data and active case review. Practice and performance issues identified at Childstat are addressed at the meeting and are monitored afterward to ensure improvement and accountability.
- ACS has hired 20 former law enforcement professionals to provide expert advice and guidance to ACS’s child protective specialists in field offices throughout the City. These Protection Agents, who began employment at ACS on November 20, 2006, will report to ACS Special Advisor for Investigations Susan Morley, former Commanding Officer of the NYPD Special Victims Division and a 21-year veteran of the NYPD.
- ACS has opened the Safety First Office to handle calls from employees of City agencies and foster care and preventive service agencies to make sure critical safety concerns get to child protective caseworkers without delay, and improve collaboration with mandated reporters. Since January, the Safety First Office has handled more than 1,100 calls.
- ACS has restructured of management throughout the ACS Division of Child Protection. Janet Flory, the former head of Children’s Aid Society child welfare and delinquency programs, has been named Deputy Commissioner for Child Protection. Additionally, in January 2006, the overall management structure of the division was improved to strengthen administrative support to the field offices and provide greater accountability. As part of this new structure, two new Associate Commissioners for Child Protection were appointed in January – Gilbert Taylor and Jennifer Marino Rojas. Four of seven Child Protective Borough Field Office heads have been elevated to the position of Assistant Commissioner. In addition, 25 new child protective managers have been hired, decreasing the span of responsibility of each manger to provide better oversight of child protective investigations.
- ACS has hired 540 additional child protective caseworkers since January 2006. ACS now has 987 child protective caseworkers on staff carrying cases and 189 currently in training. An additional 115 will begin training in November and December. Caseload averages have declined to 14.9 cases per specialist, down from an average of 21 in March 2006.
- The NYPD has created a dedicated phone number staffed at Police Headquarters to accommodate ACS requests for law enforcement assistance. Since this 24-hour, 7-days a week hotline was established in June 2006, ACS has handled 1063 Instant Response Team cases via the central intake desk, eliminating the need for child protective workers to go to police precincts to get assistance and increasing efficiency.
- Private funding has been secured for program development for the New York City Leadership Academy for Child Safety, designed to offer training and activities for child protective managers. Once fully in place experts will lead the Academy in case practice, management and policy.
- ACS has implemented new regulations that clearly mandate child protective specialists seek entry orders when they are denied access to the residence of a child suspected to be at risk. From January through September 2006, 59 entry orders were sought, compared to requests for 14 entry orders in all of 2005.
Mayor’s Interagency Task Force on Child Welfare and Safety Launches Training Programs, Develops Ambulance Protocol, Distributes Video Message by Mayor Bloomberg
- The Task Force launched a citywide Medical Awareness and Training Campaign for Child Abuse and Neglect for health care providers who interact with children. The Task Force partnered with ACS, the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS), the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) and the Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA) to launch the “Blanket-the-City” training and awareness initiative.
- HHC now requires regular abuse and neglect training for all healthcare providers who interact with children at all HHC clinics and hospitals.
- Mayor Bloomberg has recorded a video message for citywide distribution to thousands of Mandated Reporters on abuse and neglect. All NYC training and awareness sessions will begin with the Mayor’s message to educate thousands of hard-to-reach medical personnel. The message will also be electronically broadcast on websites of Task Force members including HHC, GNYHA, ACS, DOHMH, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
- The Task Force has also implemented a new 911/EMS Ambulance response protocol for cases where child abuse is suspected. All ambulances within the 911 system will adopt a new protocol directing suspected cases of child abuse to a 911 emergency room with Child Abuse Awareness and Treatment (CAAT) facilities. The protocol will not apply to children in extremis; and applies when the facility is no more than ten additional minutes from the closest emergency room.
- These accomplishments are on top of initiatives previously announced and implemented in March 2006. These accomplishments include, in the law enforcement arena, a designated NYPD Supervisor in each precinct to serve as child abuse/neglect liaison; a full-time NYPD Lieutenant assigned to ACS headquarters to facilitate coordination; and expanded internal and joint training on IRTs and child abuse within ACS and NYPD. In the education field, the definition of Educational Neglect has been clarified with DOE and ACS to eliminate any confusion about when absences must be reported; new protocols for oversight of student absence practices at the schools have been successfully implemented; and new weekly “School Absence Alerts” have been instituted at all NYC public schools to alert school leadership about potential improper absences; and a Child Abuse/Neglect Liaisons has been designated for all 1,408 City schools.
ACS Press Office: 212-341-0999
Jason Post (InterAgency Task Force): 212-788-3112