Contact: Sunny Mindel/Samantha I. Lugo (212) 788-2958
Leonora Wiener/Jennifer Falk, ACS (212) 341-0999
Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and Administration for Children's Service Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta today announced that contracts for neighborhood-based child welfare services totaling over $371 million annually will be awarded to 94 preventive service, foster care and homemaking providers in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Staten Island, and Queens, marking the first time in New York City history that all child welfare services will be made available to children and families within their own communities when appropriate.
Mayor Giuliani said, "The neighborhood-based system of care that we are putting in place throughout the City is one of the most innovative initiatives of the ACS Reform Plan we released in December 1996. Neighborhood-based services encourage the important people in a child's life to work as a team to support that child and his family. Other cities have embraced neighborhood-based services in some fashion, but none have done so on such a large, comprehensive scale. The contracts we are announcing today will facilitate working partnerships between community organizations and City government -- partnerships that will greatly enhance our ability to protect children."
Seventy contracts, totaling $152 million, were awarded to 35 Bronx providers in February 1999 and congregate care, or group home, contracts for the entire City totaling nearly $255 million will be awarded within the next few weeks. In all, the City will spend $779 million annually on neighborhood-based child welfare services contracts.
Commissioner Scoppetta said, "Today's contracts mark a radical transformation of child welfare services in New York City. We are finally able to deliver services with the child's needs in mind. Child welfare providers will no longer operate citywide, but instead will focus their efforts on particular community districts.
"The contracted agencies will not only be able to provide services to children and families close to their homes, but also will be able to form strong alliances with all medical and social service organizations in those neighborhoods. This will create a network of community-based services for children and families. Agencies currently providing child welfare services have been extremely supportive of this initiative and the proposals submitted were of exceptional quality. We are particularly pleased to announce that 15 new community-based preventive service providers will become child welfare partners with the City," Commissioner Scoppetta added.
Since the founding of ACS in January 1996, the agency has embarked on a top-to-bottom reform effort to overhaul child welfare services for New York City children and families. The move to neighborhood-based services is the centerpiece of the agency's reforms.
Under the current system, the trauma of victimized children is often exacerbated when they are sent to foster families far from their homes, friends, schools, and extended family. Only 12 percent of children currently are placed in their own community districts. At the same time, more than 75 percent of the children in foster care eventually return home or to relatives.
When children are removed from their neighborhoods, their education and medical care are disrupted, which can have lasting, adverse effects. Furthermore, the distances between New York City's boroughs make visitation with children and their birth parents difficult, which impedes progress toward reunification. Neighborhood-based services will provide children with the stability and support they need during an extremely traumatic period in their lives.
ACS received 234 proposals from 113 separate providers. The 175 contracts awarded to 94 providers include 106 preventive service, 60 foster boarding home and 9 homemaking contracts. Congregate care services, also bid under this Request for Proposals, are still being reviewed and will be awarded shortly.
Once the contracts are implemented throughout the City, the transition
to neighborhood-based services will begin with placements of new children entering foster care. Children currently in care will not be moved from their foster families. Once final negotiations are complete, ACS will provide technical assistance and work intensively with child welfare providers to build and operate community-based networks. These networks will:
The neighborhood-based services initiative, along with last year's new
employment package for the agency's approximately 4,000 caseworkers that
dramatically raised salaries, heightened educational and training requirements, and instituted merit-based promotions, will help transform the City's child welfare system. By simultaneously focusing on the needs of the children ACS must protect, as well as those of the caseworkers who serve them, the agency will be able to permanently redress the many problems that have historically plagued New York City's child welfare system.