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

The Family Assessment Program

View FAP Locations (PDF)

Raising an adolescent can be complicated, frustrating and emotionally trying. And being an adolescent can be complicated, frustrating and emotionally trying. Until recently, many overwhelmed families filed what is known as a Persons In Need of Service (PINS) petition. Through the PINS system, which is jointly administered and run by the New York City Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) and Department of Probation (DOP), parents authorize the City to help them supervise their adolescents or place them in foster care. 

In 2002, ACS and DOP developed an alternative approach, called the Family Assessment Program (FAP), to keep young people from unnecessarily entering the PINS system. Available in all five boroughs (click on side image to view locations), FAP offers information and appropriate services to help parents and young people make well-informed decisions about how to resolve such problems as running away, skipping school or unruly behavior.

All families who request services through the PINS system will be directed to FAP and meet with a Family Assessment Specialist, an experienced ACS social worker who is specially trained to help families solve problems by looking at them from multiple perspectives.

These specialists work with parents, caregivers and young people to highlight and affirm strengths, to identify service needs and to provide referrals to the most appropriate services that will help families work through their challenges.

Any family can receive assistance from the Family Assessment Program. Families are not required to have an open case with ACS to obtain help.

However, FAP will screen families for active child protective cases or service cases with ACS and the DOP.

How does FAP Work?

View FAP Process in PDF

When a family comes to FAP, the parent (s) or caregiver (s) and young person are interviewed separately and together, enabling each family member to share their feelings and experiences. This process  also explores how each family member has managed to cope with their situation. The Family Assessment Specialists can then help the family identify and focus on the issues that require immediate attention. (click on side image to view the process)

Following this initial meeting, families may be referred to a nonprofit social services provider, known as the Designated Assessment Service (DAS), to divert young people from the PINS system. Examples of the kinds of services available include:

  • Crisis intervention
  • Mediation
  • Family counseling
  • Substance abuse services
  • Domestic violence programs
  • Anger management programs

Family Assessment Specialists provide support to families by contacting the selected social services agency, setting up an appointment date and providing a contact person, whenever possible. If services fail to resolve a crisis, and the PINS system must be used, the Family Assessment Specialists will immediately set up and facilitate a conference between the Department of Probation and the family to discuss the issues, the court process and other possible options.

About the Family Assessment Specialists

View FAP Statistics in PDF

About the Family Assessment Specialists

All Family Assessment Specialists (FAS) have a Master of Social Work and a thorough understanding of conflict resolution. They attend monthly lectures and training sessions that provide current information and build skills. Recent topics include: special education, working with families experiencing domestic violence; alternate dispute resolution/mediation skills, working with sexually exploited children and engaging and empowering at-risk teens

They also participate in specialized work groups that focus on specific practice areas, including: education, group work facilitation, domestic violence, Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC) and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning (LGBTQ) youths.

What if I have an open case with the Administration for Children’s Services?

Active child protective cases are referred to one of ACS’s field offices for an elevated risk conference to develop a community-based service plan to help keep young people safely at home.

How has FAP helped New York City families since it was created at the end of 2002?

FAP has seen more than 18,000 families and 19,000 young people since 2002. In 2004, FAP assisted 9,034 young people and 8,650 families. Early projections for 2005 indicate that the program helped more than 10,000 families and young people. In the first six months of 2005, FAP saw 5,168 families and 5,255 young people. (Click on the side image to view FAP statistics)

In addition, the number of PINS petitions filed with the Department of Probation has dropped 80 percent since 2002. Between January 1 and June 30, 2002, DOP opened 3,345 PINS cases. During the same period in 2004, DOP opened only 697 PINS cases, according to a study of the program by the Vera Institute of Justice, a private, non-profit research firm based in New York. (Find the study at Vera’s website).

History of PINS and FAP

View Family Assessment Brochure in PDF
  • 1962:  Family Court Act establishes Persons In Need of Supervision 

A Person in Need of Supervision is defined as “truant, incorrigible, ungovernable or habitually disobedient and beyond the lawful control of a parent.” A non-status offense, PINS is not criminal and is not punitive. (Read more about the ACT at NY State Website )

  • 1985: Family Court Act Amended

 The act is changed slightly to decrease inappropriate use of the family court process to reduce placements and to implement an assessment, planning and service delivery strategy that supports successful diversion

  • 2002 (July):  Legislative increase in the eligible age for PINS petition from  16 to 18
  • 2002 (Dec.): Family Assessment Program (FAP) Opens in Manhattan   
  • 2003 (Feb.): FAP opens in Brooklyn
  • 2003 (July): FAP opens in Queens
  • 2004 (Jan.): FAP opens in the Bronx
  • 2004 (Nov.): FAP opens in Staten Island
  • 2005 (April): New PINS Legislation Enacted

Under the legislation, families must exhaust all service options to the point where there is no substantial likelihood that the family will benefit from additional services. Families must first cooperate with the FAP process, and parents must comply with all PINS diversion service referrals, appointments and tasks. Parents must receive a Termination of Services letter from FAP.

Family Assessment Brochure  (PDF) | Spanish Version (PDF)

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