Photo Courtesy of Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office
ACS Commissioner David Hansell
By Forum Staff
The City Administration for Children’s Services has continued to reduce the number of children in foster care and their length of stay in foster care; and a greater proportion of youth in foster care are placed with relatives or other close connections, the agency noted on Friday as it touted the release of a new report.
The just-released “Fiscal Year 2020 Foster Care Blueprint Progress Report” summarizes the agency’s work and the progress made. Key highlights include:
Fewer children in foster care: The number of city children in foster care at the end of FY 2020 reached a historic low of 7,800, which is a 6-percent decrease from FY 2019.
Reduced length of stay in foster care: The number of children in foster care for two years or more has continued to decrease, dropping by 3 percent from FY 2019 to FY 2020, and by 25% from FY 2017 to FY 2020.
More children in foster care live with relatives/friends than ever before: Research shows that children fare best with kin (relatives, close family friends, or other people who are already in a child’s life). ACS and its foster care agency partners have increased the proportion of children in foster care placed with kin from 31 percent in FY 2017 to 42 percent in FY 2020, and this increase has continued even during the pandemic.
Increased services for older youth: In FY 2020, ACS launched the Fair Futures initiative through a public-private partnership with a group of committed foundations, the Fair Futures Coalition and the Fair Futures Youth Advisory Board. Fair Futures provides youth in foster care with dedicated coaches that provide social and emotional support to build life skills and set academic and career goals. Thousands of young people ages 11-21 are receiving tutoring, coaching, college assistance, internship and employment assistance, and other resources to help improve educational and employment outcomes.
COVID-19 support and resources: Given the nature of child welfare work, ACS and foster care provider agencies never shut down during the pandemic. In the context of the Family Court’s limited operations, ACS and its contracted foster care agencies launched intensive reviews of the cases of children with the goal of reunification to identify cases that could safely move forward. These efforts contributed to a significant increase in the number of children reunified with their parents during the pandemic. We implemented virtual internship programs so that young people in foster care could continue to develop their skills to prepare them for employment. We partnered with New Yorkers for Children to establish the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, raising and dispersing more than $1.5 million to address children and families urgent needs during the pandemic.
“This progress report shows that our Foster Care Strategic Blueprint strategies are working and producing positive results: New York City continues to set the national bar in reducing the number of children in foster care and implementing focused strategies to improve outcomes for youth,” said ACS Commissioner David Hansell.