FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 17, 2010
MAYOR BLOOMBERG, SPEAKER QUINN, DEPUTY MAYOR GIBBS AND COMMISSIONER MATTINGLY ANNOUNCE THE MERGER OF THE CITY'S DEPARTMENT OF JUVENILE JUSTICE AND THE ADMINISTRATION FOR CHILDREN'S SERVICES
Merger Fulfills Commitment Made in Mayor’s State of the City Address and Combines the City’s Juvenile Detention and Child Welfare Programs to Create the Division of Youth and Family Justice at Children’s Services
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, Deputy Mayor Linda I. Gibbs and Administration for Children’s Services Commissioner John B. Mattingly today announced passage of legislation to formally integrate the City’s Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) and The Administration for Children’s Services (ACS). The City Council voted to amend the City Charter and Administrative Code to merge DJJ and ACS, combining the City’s juvenile detention and child welfare programs. Children’s Services has been working to integrate the agencies after the announcement about the merger was made in the Mayor’s State of the City address in January.
“The City has made great strides in recent years in our efforts to reduce crime and recidivism while also improving outcomes for youth, their families and our communities,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “By merging the City’s juvenile detention and child welfare programs, we will strengthen our ability to improve long-term outcomes for youth involved with the juvenile justice system – many of whom have also been in the child welfare system.”
“We must always work toward the best interest of our children, and that means constantly reevaluating how the City provides services for them,” said New York City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “I commend Mayor Bloomberg, Commissioner Mattingly and my colleagues Chair Sara González and Chair Annabel Palma for all their work on this agency merger. With their leadership and oversight, I can confidently say that we are continuing to make New York City’s children’s safety and welfare a priority.”
“This is a critical step in the progress of the City’s juvenile justice reform efforts and I would like to thank Speaker Quinn and Chairs Gonzalez and Palma for their partnership,” said Deputy Mayor Gibbs. “The merger reflects our City’s commitment to keeping public safety our number one priority while also improving the custody and care of detained youth.”
The collaboration of the juvenile justice and child welfare systems creates the Division of Youth and Family Justice at Children’s Services, which will oversee the City’s detention operations to coordinate comprehensive services for youth involved in the juvenile justice system while maintaining a commitment to public safety. As part of the merger, the City released a plan in June outlining several strategies to expand the continuum of alternative to detention programs, serving more families in community and family-based settings, and facilitating better decision-making regarding the use of detention. In addition, Children’s Services will continue working to improve conditions of confinement and reduce case processing times for both juvenile delinquents and juvenile offenders.
There is a significant overlap in the populations served by ACS and the former DJJ – many of the young people served by DJJ and their families have had involvement with ACS, either as the subject of an abuse and neglect report, as someone who has had a stay in foster care, or because the family has received support services. The merger makes possible long-term planning for youth and their families involved in the juvenile justice system.
Over the past several years, the City implemented a series of juvenile justice reforms to improve its ability to assess risk and provide appropriate interventions for court-involved youth. As part of this ongoing effort, the City reduced placements in state juvenile institutions by 56 percent since 2002. In addition, existing programs will be reviewed and new programs will be developed that draw on the experience of other jurisdictions using evidence-based models and positive youth development approaches.
“ACS and DJJ have been working collaboratively since January to put in place a series of reform efforts that will take our City’s juvenile justice system to the next level,” said Commissioner John Mattingly. “By combining all of our resources, we will be able to help young people who have had trouble with the law get the help they need in their communities with support, supervision and guidance.”
“I have repeatedly expressed my heartfelt position that we must continue to seek better and more meaningful outcomes for children who come into contact with the Juvenile Justice system. As children, they have the inherent ability to absorb transformative lessons in their lives and to use them to turn their lives around. We are seeing proof that Commissioner Mattingly and his team share that commitment throughout the many meetings and discussions we shared, in the testimony we heard and in the progress we have made which will not only lead to lower detention and recidivism rates but also enable us to, at long last, close Spofford once and for all,” said Council Member Sara González, Chair of the Juvenile Justice Committee.
“The General Welfare and the Juvenile Justice Committees have held a number of hearings examining the merger,” said Council Member Annabel Palma, Chair of the General Welfare Committee. “Both Council Member Gonzalez and I are optimistic that this merger will lead to improvements in the City’s juvenile justice system. Specifically, we expect a reduction in the City’s use of detention and an increase in availability of alternative to detention programs for youth. Our committees will continue to use our oversight capabilities to make sure that ACS adequately fulfills all of its vital mandates.”
Since 1979, DJJ has provided custody and care to juveniles under the age of 16 who are involved in the City’s juvenile justice system through a network of secure detention facilities and non-secure group homes. The new Division of Youth and Family Justice at Children’s Services has been organized with Laurence Busching, formerly Chief of the Family Court Division for the New York City Law Department, as Executive Deputy Commissioner. Deputy Commissioner Busching oversees the division’s programs that include the custody and care of juveniles who are involved in the City’s juvenile detention system. He is also responsible for the Juvenile Justice Initiative (JJI), and the ACS-operated Persons In Need of Supervision (PINS) program – for youth under 18 who are beyond the lawful control of a parent.
As the City’s child welfare agency, Children’s Services investigates reports of abuse and neglect, oversees children in foster care, provides supportive services to families, and manages a network of child care and Head Start programs. For the past several years, ACS has been operating the City’s largest alternative to placement program – the Juvenile Justice Initiative (JJI) – for youth who have been arrested. The JJI utilizes evidence-based programs which have been proven to strengthen families and reduce recidivism.
Stu Loeser/Jessica Scaperotti (Mayor) (212) 788-2958
Jamie McShane (Council) (212) 788-7124
Elysia Murphy (Children’s Services) (212) 341-0999