This brief discusses some of the trends among New York City’s (NYC) children and families that may impact the future of child welfare services in NYC, including transition age youth in foster care. Most trends among NYC’s children and families show marked improvements in living conditions and child well-being over the last several years. In tandem with reforms at the NYC Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), these improvements likely contributed to the long-term declines in foster care entries and census. Some data points, such as the increase in children living in concentrated poverty, raise concerns that more children and families may experience child welfare interventions.
This policy brief focuses on the child welfare reforms implemented in New York City from 2002 and 2013 that many believe contributed to the decline in the number of children in foster care. Many of these reforms were triggered by the tragic death of seven-year-old Nixzmary Brown at the hands of her parents, despite several previous reports of maltreatment, in 2006. It also identifies challenges that the city is likely to encounter in the future in its efforts to sustain and expand these reforms.
Despite the heightened vulnerability of children with special medical needs (CSMN), few child welfare systems have explicit policies, training, or case management procedures designed to ensure their identification and monitor their safety. This study highlights an innovative approach in New York City that aims to enhance staff’s ability to work more effectively with CSMN families. The results of these efforts are compelling, and include targeted training of child protective staff, the development of a comprehensive policy for working with CSMN families, and practice changes designed to ensure staff access to medical expertise. Drawing on interviews and focus groups with staff and experts in the field of CSMN, the study describes the challenges that all child welfare agencies face in their efforts to serve CSMN, and provides recommendations for how agencies can design viable policies to address those challenges.