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NYC Administration for Children's Services: The City's child welfare agency, dedicated to protecting children and strengthening families

Press Release
February 2, 2010

 ACS Begins Electronic Filing of Abuse and Neglect Petitions in New York City Family Court

NEW YORK John B. Mattingly, Commissioner of the New York City Administration for Children’s Services and the Hon. Edwina Richardson-Mendelson, Administrative Judge of New York City Family Court, today announced the successful launch of the electronic filing of abuse and neglect petitions in Family Court. 

ACS investigated approximately 65,000 abuse and neglect reports annually over the last four years and where appropriate petitioned the New York Family Court to provide services including foster care and preventive services to children and families. Over 12,000 such petitions are filed annually with the New York City Family Court. These petitions are now being filed electronically and data which had been manually entered by court and ACS staff is now being shared electronically. This accomplishment marks the first effort of this kind by a large urban jurisdiction in the nation.

Commissioner Mattingly said: “By introducing this new shared data system, ACS and the Family Court are tearing up the old ways of doing things and committing ourselves to a better way of working. Our primary shared goal is to protect children, and this will help us do that better and faster.”

Judge Richardson-Mendelson added: “This is an unprecedented effort by New York’s Family Court – or any similar court serving a major metropolitan area in this country – to increase the efficiency with which abuse and neglect cases are handled. Perhaps most importantly, the launch of this data sharing effort will help expedite permanency planning for vulnerable children served by the court.”

With this new process, preliminary results show that cases are reaching judges significantly earlier in the day for these critical initial hearings. Early filing enables attorneys for both parents and children to be assigned earlier; thus, clients are interviewed prior to the court hearing so that when the case goes before a judge, everyone is better prepared to move forward. Additionally, having cases heard earlier in the day reduces the amount of time that ACS workers have to spend in court, freeing them up to provide services to families.

Electronic filing is part of a larger court reform effort underway in Family Court with respect to the handling of child abuse and neglect matters. Future stages of the initiative will include electronic transmission of court orders which will ensure that all orders are shared with all parties and also stored electronically, reducing the need for ACS to scan orders. This process will also help increase ACS’s Title IV-E reimbursement for children in foster care, ultimately saving money for both New York City and New York State.

Electronic petition filing is the first in a series of steps intended to promote better communication between the two organizations, increasing worker productivity by reducing data entry and improving data quality, and expedite permanency for children placed in foster care. In addition, the expanded amount of data available to all parties can facilitate more well-informed decision making amongst all the parties associated with the case.

The initial funding for the assessment and feasibility study was provided through a grant from the Pew Charitable Trust to the Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children. The development and implementation is supported by Court Improvement Project grant funds provided to the New York State Unified Court System by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau, and through the use of capital funds by the City as well as by leveraging existing City and State staff resources.

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