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Helping NYC kids and their families



The New York City Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) takes its mission to keep children safe and families supported seriously, and our commitment to strengthening this work never stops.

When I first became commissioner, I listened to youth, parents, advocates, partners and colleagues to develop a set of priorities aimed at making the city a better, safer and more equitable place for families. Since then, we’ve been working hard to achieve this goal, sharing periodic updates, and today, I am pleased with much of the progress we have made and is publicly available.

Significant improvements have been made to ensure child protection teams — who have some of the most difficult jobs in the city — have the training and resources needed to identify children who are not safe and take steps to protect them. Because of our focus, New York City’s caseload average is nine — one of the lowest in the country.

For the past decade, we’ve been making monthly data like this public on our website. We’ve increased the number of former NYPD detectives working alongside child welfare workers, trained staff on how to help mothers struggling with maternal mental health disorders, and deepened our partnership with Child Advocacy Centers, which are staffed by pediatricians, nurses, social workers and others to examine our most at-risk children. Those are just a few examples of our recent enhancements.

As part of their work to keep children safe, ACS workers often connect families to services, like mental health counseling or alcohol misuse treatment — which can take place in the family’s home — and access to concrete supports, like food, clothing, diapers, etc. These services are free and available citywide. We’ve even expanded services for families facing domestic violence and are launching new school-based family support programs. Last year, 31,937 children were served through our services. 

We’ve also expanded our community-based supports. Our Family Enrichment Centers (FECs) are welcoming walk-in centers and, key to their success, is that community members play a central role in each center’s unique design to meet the wants and needs of local families. For instance, some centers offer Zumba classes and movie nights, while others offer financial literacy classes and job fairs. Each center is unique based on what the community requests. Since I have been commissioner, we increased from three FECs to 12 and will soon reach 30 citywide. 

More than ever before, we’re making sure families have access to affordable child care. There is nothing more important than knowing that your child is being safely cared for while you are out earning a living or studying towards a degree. Families may qualify for assistance if their income falls below 85% of the State Median Income and have an approved reason for seeking child care. Under this administration, ACS increased children enrolled with a low income voucher five times (7,000 to 35,000). And, we’ve made it easier to apply for child care assistance via the MyCity portal.

Finally, for those children who must be placed in foster care, we are working to make sure they have everything they need to succeed. We expanded Fair Futures, which connects youth in foster care and juvenile justice programs to a coach. Approximately 4,000 young people are receiving Fair Futures services. Our new College Choice Program supports young people who are in foster care to attend college and offers them academic support. More than 300 youth are enrolled — an increase of about 50%.

When it comes to the success of families and the safety of children, there is always more work to do. Every week, my team and I engage in our nationally renowned ChildStat system accountability process, where we take a deep dive into data trends and evaluate individual real-life cases to constantly improve. We also added a new dimension where staff identify systemic challenges they are facing that leadership then works to solve.

In all that we do, we have one unwavering focus: making ACS stronger for NYC’s children and families.

ACS remains dedicated to building a city where young people are safe and thriving and families are supported as their most important resources and protectors; and where our staff are supported as they carry out this critical work. The deep commitment and passion our teams have for making New York City a better place for children and families continues to inspire and move me.

I pledge that ACS will continue to listen, learn and evolve our work. We are never done in this vital mission.

Dannhauser has been commissioner of the Administration for Children’s Services since January 2022.

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