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
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
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
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.