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Strong Families Initiative

In 2014, in partnership with New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS), ACS launched a Title IV-E Demonstration Project, called Strong Families NYC (SFNYC), with approval from the federal Administration for Children and Families (ACF). The Title IV-E Waiver has allowed ACS to utilize theIV-E federal funding stream in a flexible manner in order to promote greater stability, permanency and well-being for children in foster care.

    ACS implemented the following system reforms and evidenced based models:
  • Caseload and Supervisory Ratio Reductions bringing case planner caseloads to 12 children per case planner and reducing the supervisory ratios to four.Prior to the waiver, New York City foster care system had an average of 18 to 22 children per case planner and had a supervisory ratio of five case planners per supervisor.
  • Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths - New York (CANS-NY) is a trauma-informed screening tool that is used with every child in family foster care placement for 30 days or more to identify the child’s and caregiver’s needs and strengths.
  • Attachment and Biobehavioral Catch-up (ABC) is a 10-week intervention for parents and foster parents of children aged six months to 48 months that is designed to improve a caregiver’s ability to provider sensitive, responsive and nurturing care. The model is proven to promote healthy brain development in infants and toddlers who have experienced early adversity.
  • Partnering for Success (PfS) is a framework to improve the communication, collaboration and referral pathways between child welfare and mental health professionals. PfS provides training to foster care case planners and mental health clinicians to support the delivery of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Plus (CBT+), an evidence-based therapeutic treatment model for children who are experiencing anxiety, depression, behavioral issues and/or trauma.
    An independent evaluation by national child welfare expert Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago found that the initiative has resulted in the following:
  • Shorter stays in foster care.Median length of stay in foster decreased by 9 percent (an average of 50 days).Exits from foster care increased by 9 percent.
  • Improved parenting and sensitivity: Caregivers who participated in one of the evidence-based interventions, Attachment Biobehavioral Catchup (ABC), demonstrated increased levels of parenting sensitivity and nurturance.

Chapin Hall also conducted an impact analysis to understand what would happen if caseloads were returned to higher levels that existed before the waiver. The analysis found that the number of children in foster care would increase by 425 children at a cost of $90 million over five years.