Baby Steps: Poverty, Chronic Stress & New York's Youngest Children

Chronic stress and early trauma shape the brain development of very young children. Increasingly, research shows that innovative, early-life work with infants, toddlers and their parents can help prevent the need for much more costly interventions later on. Can we reduce the likelihood of abuse, neglect and mental illness in stressed-out, low-income families?

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Brushes with the Law: Young New Yorkers, Neighborhoods and the Criminal Justice System

The city has overhauled its juvenile justice system to keep more young people out of confinement and in their communities. In the process, officials, organizers and providers also aim to strengthen families and neighborhoods. How can city government engage communities and tap into the strengths of local groups that work with teens and families?

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Ties That Bind: Reimagining juvenile justice and child welfare for teens, families and communities

The Bloomberg administration is seeking major changes in how the city works with teens in juvenile justice, child protection and foster care. The city would create a complete juvenile justice system in the five boroughs, no longer sending teens to state-run correctional facilities. At the same time, nonprofits would create more intensive, family-centered and community-rooted services for teens in child welfare.

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Parent Advocates in the Child Welfare System

Parent advocates are trained to support birth parents as they navigate the city’s complicated child welfare system. Research suggests they can help parents successfully move their child welfare cases forward. In June 2009, the Parent Advocate Initiative (PAI) was created to administer citywide support programs for supervisors of Parent Advocates in foster care agencies.

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Foster Teens in Transition: Are they better off today?

For years, rates of homelessness among the city’s former foster youth have remained stubbornly high. The city is connecting more teens to families, keeping more of them out of foster care in the first place, and developing new programs for pregnant and parenting foster teens. But for those remaining in foster and group homes, resources are being cut.

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A Transformative Moment? New York's New Vision for Juvenile Justice

Major changes are afoot in juvenile justice. Governor Paterson recently proposed long-awaited reforms for upstate facilities where young teens are incarcerated. But he also proposed large cuts to alternative-to-detention and diversion programs. Meanwhile, the Bloomberg administration has merged the city’s juvenile justice agency with children’s services, potentially accelerating expansion of community- and family-centered services for juvenile delinquents and other young people.

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A Need for Correction: Reforming New York’s Juvenile Justice System

The federal Department of Justice has threatened to take over the state’s juvenile justice system because of incidents of staff violence and inadequate psychiatric care for mentally ill children in custody. Will the state and city improve mental health services and conditions of confinement for juvenile delinquents? Child Welfare Watch released its latest report, examining alternatives to incarceration.

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Homes Away From Home: The Changing Face of Foster Care

New York City’s foster care system has made headway in finding family homes for young people who once would have lived in group homes and residential treatment centers. But city officials and nonprofit leaders face tremendous challenges in creating effective support systems, crisis teams and training programs that can help foster parents care for these children.

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Pressures and Possibilities: Family Support, Foster Care and the Future of a Billion-Dollar System

The Bloomberg administration is mounting an all-out campaign to reduce the length of time children spend in foster care and to make preventive and post-reunification supports for families more effective. Few disagree with these goals. But in a child welfare system managed by nonprofits, the city must use its power over contracts to drive change. It’s an enormous and controversial challenge.

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Is there Order in Family Court? A Child Welfare Watch Forum.

New York's Family Court ensures neither fair representation nor timely decisions in cases involving the most cherished and personal aspect of our lives, the relationships between parents and their children. This winter, new state legislative mandates, the impact of the Nixzmary Brown case and new initiatives at the city's Administration for Children's Services have converged to put new pressures on this overstressed institution.

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Taking Care of New York’s Children (I): Rethinking Child Care

Mayor Bloomberg and the NYC Administration for Children's Services have announced a broad expansion and realignment of child care and early education programs. The new system aims to pull together disparate parts, simplify enrollment, improve accountability-and eventually increase dramatically the number of children taking part.

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