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Press Release
March 17, 2011

ACS Launches New Services Continuum for Family Assessment Program

New crisis intervention and nationally renowned models for intensive, family-centered therapy to be provided for families seeking help addressing behavioral challenges of adolescents
New York, N.Y. – The Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) announced today the launch of a new continuum of services available through the agency’s Family Assessment Program (FAP).  These services aim to strengthen outcomes for families in crisis due to the behavior of an adolescent in the home.  FAP provides diversion services to thousands of families each year who are seeking to file a Person in Need of Supervision (PINS) petition in Family Court.  PINS are also known as status offenders or youth up to age 18 who are charged with offenses unique to their status as juveniles, including truancy, ungovernability and running away from home.  FAP helps to connect parents and youth to an array of proven services that will meet the specific needs of the family.

“New York City has seen tremendous results from family-centered therapies when working with families involved with the juvenile justice system and we are extremely excited to bring this revolutionary approach to our Family Assessment Program,” said ACS Commissioner John B. Mattingly.  “New York City is unique in making this comprehensive continuum of services available to young people and families; no one else in the country is offering this level of service to this population of young people in need.”

The FAP expansion introduces a range of intervention levels designed to meet the varying needs of families, strengthen family relationships and help them stay together.  The new model also includes an enhanced intake process that screens families when they first seek assistance from the Courts to determine right away the best service level for them.  A new assessment tool helps FAP staff consider individual factors, including behavioral issues, school concerns, family relationships, mental health issues, and substance abuse concerns to determine which level of care will provide the best assistance to the family.

“Working with national experts, we have developed new tools that allow us to make an immediate assessment of the needs of these families and put in the supports they need before the situation escalates,” said Larry Busching, Executive Deputy Commissioner for ACS’s Division of Youth and Family Justice. “These new assessment tools help us to ensure that when we connect a family with a service we are making the best match possible and that we are doing so in a timely manner.”

Families receiving FAP services are provided with one of four different levels of care, which are determined by the new assessment tool:

  • Level I: Family Stabilization – A crisis team meets with the young person and his or her family in the home to provide immediate mediation services and collaboratively develop an individualized service plan.  The crisis team will support family members for a period of no more than 60 days and will connect the family to community-based services if necessary at the end of the service.
  • Level II: Family Functional Therapy (FFT) – A small team of highly trained therapists provides therapy to the young person and his or her family as a unit, in the home to strengthen the family relations and develop strategies for addressing behavioral challenges. Therapy takes place over an intensive four-month period including 30 one hour sessions.
  • Level IIA: Multidimensional Family Therapy (MDFT) – A small team of trained therapists provide counseling to families struggling with an adolescent’s substance abuse and associated behavioral problems. Treatment, including regular drug testing, takes place in a combination of in-home, in-school, and in-clinic sessions over two to five month period.
  • Level III: Multi-Systemic Therapy and Adaptations (MST) – A highly trained therapist works with the entire family in the home multiple times per week and is available by phone 24 hours a day over a four month period.  This is for families requiring a more intensive level of therapy, particularly for families facing serious substance abuse or who are involved with multiple service systems and require assistance navigating these systems.
  • Level IV: Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care (MTFC) – A youth is placed in a short-term foster home with a family who is specially trained to work with troubled youth. These foster parents work closely with a family therapist for a ten month period to develop rules and expectations for a young person to manage behavior. In addition, the family will receive on-going intensive therapy and training to develop parenting skills and teach them how to provide discipline, supervision and encouragement so that the youth can return to the home after a short stay in care.

Levels II through IV of this new continuum (FFT, MDFT, MST and MTFC) all utilize nationally renowned, evidence based service models. Evidence based programs are research tested and show empirical evidence to have statistically significant effectiveness as treatment for adolescents and their families.  The three home-based therapeutic models (FFT, MST and MTFC) are currently utilized in ACS’s Juvenile Justice Initiative (JJI), providing alternatives to incarceration services to young people involved with the juvenile justice system and their families. This is the first time that MDFT will be used in New York City.

Gilbert Taylor, Deputy Commissioner of Family Court Legal Services at ACS, was instrumental in helping advance the use of community-based services and Evidence Based Programs for these youth and their families.  Under Mr. Taylor’s leadership, FAP put out the Request for Proposals that created a more robust continuum of therapeutic interventions for families seeking to file PINS petitions that ACS is currently launching under the Division of Youth and Family Justice.  Under Mr. Taylor’s leadership, ACS put out the Request for Proposals for FAP services that created a more robust continuum of therapeutic interventions for families seeking to file PINS petitions that ACS is currently launching under the new Division of Youth and Family Justice.  The Division of Youth and Family was created from the merger of ACS with the Department of Juvenile Justice and is leading ACS’s efforts to expand upon the services available for youth who get into trouble with the law and their families.  The Division oversees the City’s juvenile detention operations and coordinates comprehensive services for youth who come into contact with the juvenile justice system.  The merger builds upon the City’s recent history of successful juvenile justice reforms aimed at reducing recidivism and increasing public safety.

Family Assessment Program locations are open Monday-Friday, from 9:00 a.m to 5:00 p.m.  For services, contact FAP offices in the five boroughs:

  • Manhattan: (212) 341-0012
  • Brooklyn: (718) 260-8550 and (718) 260-8508
  • Queens: (718) 725-3244
  • Bronx: (718) 664-1731
  • Staten Island: (718) 720-0071

Press Contact
Michael Fagan:  212-341-0999

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