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Celebrating a Budget Victory This Child Abuse Prevention Month

The April 1st Adoption of the State Budget gave us a victory to celebrate this Child Abuse Prevention Month!

The Governor’s proposed budget would have capped and cut state reimbursement to New York City for child welfare services, including preventive services (and child protective services). The Independent Budget Office estimated that the budget impact to the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) would have been a loss of $160 million, which would have grown every year.

Thanks to the parents, providers, advocates, legislators and New Yorkers, who galvanized throughout the state to prevent this dangerous proposal, this April’s Child Abuse Prevention Month truly is a time to celebrate.  The passion and commitment to protect and expand preventive services was inspiring and evident as hundreds of New Yorkers sent letters, emails, attended rallies, and made numerous trips to Albany to meet with elected officials.

If the Governor’s proposal had been approved, it would have been devastating to New York City’s children and families.  Since 2002, New York State has capped foster care funding, while providing open-ended nearly 2 to 1 reimbursement for other child welfare services, including child protective services and child abuse and neglect prevention services.  The goal was to incentivize counties to invest in the services that produced good outcomes, kept children safe, strengthened and supported families, and enabled children to remain with their families whenever possible

It worked.  Since 2002, New York City has leveraged this funding stream to lower child protective caseloads, decrease juvenile justice detention and placement, dramatically reduce the use of foster care, and become a national model for its continuum of high quality, effective preventive services.  And we have seen results:  Since 2002, New York City’s foster care population has decreased dramatically, from nearly 30,000 to fewer than 9,000 children currently in foster care today.

The preventive services at risk were those that are aimed at preventing children from entering foster care and those that help families reunify from foster care. They include a range of services including mental health substance abuse, domestic violence, and parenting programs.  A growing number of ACS’s preventive services are evidence-based.

In fact, New York City was recently recognized by Casey Family Programs as being a national leader in investing in an extensive array of preventive services and family supports, thanks to what Casey Family Programs described as the City’s Administration for Children’s Services’ “largest and most diverse continuum of evidence-based and evidence-informed preventive programs in any jurisdiction in the country.”

In addition to these child welfare preventive services, ACS, providers and communities in New York City have also been investing in primary preventive services, which help to prevent child abuse or neglect from ever occurring and to reach families before there is ever an allegation of abuse or neglect.  These services include home visiting, family enrichment centers, child care, and other services that strengthen parenting and family well-being.

Next month, CCC will hold its biennial symposium in honor of the late Judge Justine Wise Polier, one of CCC’s co-founders and a family court judge who leveraged her position to advocate fiercely for more resources for underserved children, including services to keep families together.

This year’s Polier Symposium will focus on Family-Centered Approaches to Child Well-being: Building Responsive and Resilient Caregiver/Child Relationships and will highlight ways in which child-serving agencies are leveraging innovative parent and family-centered programming to build strong caregiver/child relationships and ultimately create a foundation for improved health, mobility, and well-being. We will hear from agencies and programs including Graham Windham’s Family Success Initiative, Power of 2, Forestdale’s Strong Fathers program, Henry Street’s Parent Center, and The New York Foundling’s Families Rising program about the innovative ways they are working to keep children and families safe, protected, and together. Those who are interested in attending can sign up here.

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