Youth Justice, Police and NYC’s Neighborhoods

Center for New York City Affairs at The New School presentsa Child Welfare Watch forumCo-sponsored by the New York Juvenile Justice Initiative


There’s been a sea change in New York City juvenile justice policy and police practices over the last two years: Courts now place most teen delinquents in city programs close to home, rather than upstate; and police have sharply reduced the use of stop and frisk, a tactic that overwhelmingly targeted young men of color. Policymakers in the new administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio seek to drive change even further, to improve police-community relations and strengthen juvenile justice programs while also securing public safety. How does the administration intend to pursue its objectives? What do community leaders and others believe needs to change? Will young people and community residents gain a meaningful voice in both policy and practice? And can better data collection and data sharing help shape new solutions, both inside and outside the walls of government?

A conversation with:

  • Gladys Carrion, commissioner, NYC Administration for Children's Services
  • Joanne Jaffe, bureau chief, New York Police Department
  • Chino Hardin, field trainer/organizer, Center for NuLeadership on Urban Solutions
  • Gabrielle Prisco, director, Juvenile Justice Project, Correctional Association of New York
  • Chris Watler, project director, Harlem Community Justice Center at Center for Court Innovation

Moderated by:

  • Andrew White, director, Center for New York City Affairs, The New School

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This forum is made possible thanks to the generous support of The Prospect Hill Foundation and the Sirus Fund.  Additional funding for the Child Welfare Watch project is provided by the Child Welfare Fund, the Ira W. DeCamp Foundation and the Booth Ferris Foundation.

Combating Youth Violence: Concrete Solutions for New York City

Youth violence has declined sharply over two decades--more than 70 percent in New York State, according to the Center for Disease Control & Prevention. Yet in some neighborhoods there are now increasing reports of gang activity and violence. Tensions and distrust remain high between law enforcement officials and community members - especially young people.

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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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DREAM Activists and the Immigrant Rights Movement

Tens of thousands of youth graduate high school each year in the US with an inherited title: “undocumented immigrant.” Passage of the DREAM Act would make many undocumented young people legal residents, start them on a path to citizenship and make them eligible for financial aid if they finish college or serve in the military. While Congress considers—and delays—passage, legislators in states nationwide are debating and passing measures of their own.

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High Stakes Decisions: How NYC Students Have Fared Under High School Choice

New York City’s system of high school choice is the largest in the nation, with students bidding for placement among hundreds of schools. The goal was to let students escape low-performing neighborhood schools, allowing them to compete for a spot in up to 12 schools anywhere in the city. Today, 80 percent of participating students get one of their top five picks. But placement of the city’s most vulnerable students remains controversial.

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Youth in Harm's Way: Marijuana, Law Enforcement and Young New Yorkers

According to the New York Division of Criminal Justice Services, 70 percent of the 50,383 arrests for possession of marijuana in New York City in 2010 were of young people under 30, and 86 percent of those arrested were black and Latino. The debate on the classification of marijuana possession as a crime is heating up nationwide even as the number of arrests in New York has risen.

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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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Struggling Schools, Hard Times: Teachers, communities and school improvement in a time of fiscal uncertainty

A conversation with Michael Mulgrew, President of the United Federation of Teachers, on turning around struggling public schools and boosting community collaboration. How will educators, parents and the city respond to the state fiscal crisis? And what is the future of school accountability in New York City?

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School Food Matters: Hunger, Obesity and Reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act

According to advocates, families of at least 1 in 5 New York City children still rely on soup kitchens and food pantries, despite free school breakfast and subsidized school lunches. President Obama pledged to end child hunger in the US by 2015, and the reauthorization of the federal Child Nutrition Act is expected by September.

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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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Pass or Fail: Whats Next for New York City's High Schools?

New York City’s high schools have undergone a powerful transformation during the Bloomberg years, with more than 200 new small schools and dozens of others closed or reshaped. The city’s education department has introduced school competition, giving families unprecedented choice. But how has all this worked out for the students at-risk of dropping out?

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Class Struggles: Strengthening Schools by Strengthening Families

New York City’s public schools are held accountable for their students’ educational progress. But what happens when problems at home hold students back, or when young children aren’t coming to school? Could the city create a school-based safety net in the lowest-income neighborhoods?

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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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Home Is Where I Belong: Juvenile Justice Shifts Back to the Community

State leaders are debating proposals to close several near-empty juvenile facilities and revamp a system that has long invested only modest resources in community-based alternatives. Meanwhile, New York City is deploying family supports and services designed to keep more young people from being locked up, send others home faster, and still ensure public safety. Could New York have a juvenile justice system that depends less on incarceration and detention?

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Who Rules the Schools? Mayoral Control After Bloomberg

When Mayor Michael Bloomberg took office one of his top priorities was to repair the city’s ailing public schools. The state gave him control of the school system five years ago and must soon decide whether to extend that power to future administrations. Are the schools more accountable today? Students and teachers more successful?

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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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From the Margins to the Mainstream: Responding to Rising Rates of Autism

A fast-growing number of people receiving government-funded developmental disabilities services in New York are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. And in city schools, the number of pupils with autism has increased 72 percent in only five years. How are government, service providers, schools and parents responding?

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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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