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Press Release
April 14, 2008

Children's Services Immigrant Community Group Initiative Fights Child Abuse and Neglect

New York City Administration for Children's Services (ACS) today announced its Immigrant Community Partnerships Project initiative. This initiative is a collaborative association with South Asian, Mexican and West African immigrant organizations designed to prevent child abuse and neglect by creating partnerships between the City's child welfare system and immigrant community groups.

The community partnerships between Children's Services and immigrant-serving community organizations are designed to educate immigrant communities about child welfare standards and available support services.  In addition, child welfare professionals will learn from the community organizations about religious, cultural and linguistic issues that may arise in working with immigrant families. The Immigrant Community Partnerships enables community members to act as "cultural liaisons" between immigrant families and Children's Services' workers, and provides support to immigrant families.

These partnerships include: Tepeyac Asociación de New York, to work with Mexican families; Sauti Yetu Center for African Women, which is heading a coalition of West African immigrant groups; and the Coalition for Asian Children and Families, which is coordinating efforts for a group of eight South Asian community based organizations.  The South Asia outreach network includes the Asian Outreach Program of the Child Center of New York, Sakhi for South Asian Women, South Asian Youth Advocacy (SAYA), Center for the Integration and Advancement of New Americans (CIANA), Council of Peoples Organization (COPO), Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM), South Asian Council for Social Services (SACSS) and Turning Point for Women and Families.

"We found that language, culture, immigration status, lack of understanding of child abuse laws and fear of government involvement had acted as barriers to our ability to work effectively with immigrant families involved in our child welfare system," said Children's Services Commissioner John B. Mattingly. "While we provide interpreters to address the language needs of immigrant families and train our staff on providing culturally competent services, Children's Services recognized that we needed to do more to address the complex needs of emerging immigrant communities in the city.

"Differences and mistrust can lead to misunderstandings," Commissioner Mattingly added. "This partnership will assist us and our and foster care and preventive service agencies partners to provide culturally competent services throughout these communities."

 The partnership efforts will comprise cultural competency/awareness training sessions and interpreter services to child welfare staff; the community groups will also have the opportunity to participate and consult in child protective case conferences and family conferences. Community groups and ACS staff also will hold educational forums on topics such as identifying and preventing child abuse/neglect, accessing child care and Head Start services, becoming a licensed child care provider and accessing support services. Additionally, through an Annie E. Casey Foundation grant, Agenda for Children Tomorrow is providing consulting services to provide training and assistance to the community organizations managing the project.

Tepeyac and the African coalition have so far conducted four community forums, each attended by an average of 100 participants.  The forums have addressed issues of school attendance, sexual activity of teens, corporal punishment and parental discipline.  Community Based Organizations (CBO) have participated in training provided by ACS's Division of Child Protection (DCP) and also attended 20 child safety conferences.

Wayne Ho, Executive Director of the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families said, "We are excited about working with ACS and ACT to keep South Asian children safe and South Asian families together. Our collaborative will increase the capacity of ACS and its partner organizations to effectively provide child welfare services for the city's South Asian community."

Joel Magallan, the Executive Director of Asociación Tepeyac de New York said, "In the past, we used to fight with ACS over how they treated Mexican families. Today we are partners with ACS so that we can prevent child abuse in the Mexican community, and help our families to know regulations, get services and resources, and not feel alone in facing the problems related to their children. I am sure it will strengthen child care and our families. Asociación Tepeyac is now also providing interpreters and helping ACS understand our culture and what is happening in the Mexican families that they are trying to help."

Adama Diop of the African Coalition said, "African families living in New York are very afraid when ACS comes to their homes. They don't understand the laws about child abuse and neglect and they don't know that there are services that can help them if they need assistance.  By being partners with ACS, the African Coalition helps educate African families about New York's laws and how they can discipline their children and prevent abuse and neglect. We also help ACS by providing interpreters for the many different languages that African families speak in New York and help ACS understand the different African cultures of the families that they are working with."

The New York City Administration for Children's Services protects the city's children from abuse and neglect.  Children's Services and its community partners provide neighborhood based services to help children grow up in safe, permanent homes with strong families.  Formed in 1996 the agency oversees the City's programs of child protection, foster care, preventive services, adoption, Child Care and Head Start.  For more information about ACS, please visit our Website: www.nyc.gov/acs.

Contact:
ACS Press Office: (212) 341-0999

 

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