Over the last four years, we've adopted a new philosophy of child welfare in New York City +- to always put the needs of children first. Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta and I have worked hard to reshape the Administration for Children's Services (ACS) into a performance-based agency in which caseworkers are given intensive training, held accountable for their work, and given incentives to excel. We've made the message clear that children must be protected, with no exceptions and no excuses.
This Thursday, we took another important step forward in making the city a safer place for children by announcing the formation of new Instant Response Teams to protect children who have been victims of severe abuse.
This innovative initiative joins the resources of ACS, the NYPD, and the district attorney's offices in all five boroughs to form Instant Response Teams that will respond without delay to the most serious allegations of physical and sexual abuse +- 24 hours a day, seven days a week, citywide.
The experts on each team will carefully coordinate their efforts from the very beginning, making sure that a child is taken out of the abusive environment as quickly as possible and brought to a Child Advocacy Center, where he or she will receive medical treatment and other necessary care.
The first priority is ensuring the safety and emotional well-being of the child. And after we ensure this, the careful coordination of the instant response teams will also help us to do the next important thing -- prosecute the abuser.
The teams will ensure that evidence is gathered in a timely and effective manner, always being as sensitive as possible to the effect of the process on the children.
This is very difficult work, but with experts from the NYPD, ACS, and the district attorney's offices working together, we will be able to respond sensitively, efficiently, and most of all immediately to children who need us. That will save lives and send the unequivocal message that New York City is united against child abuse.