President's Message

Transforming Child Welfare and Children’s Lives

New York entrusts the care of its most vulnerable children—those experiencing child abuse and neglect—to the State’s child welfare system. However, preliminary data associated with a periodic federal review of the State’s child welfare system shows that the State often struggles to produce positive outcomes for those children.  

The data show that children in New York’s system are more likely to experience multiple occurrences of maltreatment, and less likely to be quickly placed in a permanent home than children in nearly every other state. Specifically, children in New York who have been the subject of an indicated report of maltreatment are more likely to experience maltreatment again within the year than children in 46 other states. New York also ranks near the bottom nationally on the time it takes for children in foster care to be placed in a permanent home.[1] 

These numbers are particularly discouraging given that this is the third time New York has undergone the federal review over the course of the decade, and the State has shown little improvement from one review to the next. And this review is one that has repeatedly flown under the radar in Albany. Indeed, the fate of children involved in the child welfare system in general garners little attention except when there is a tragic death, which typically leads to a few days of finger-pointing and firings, but seldom to a searching review of the system, and the root causes of its shortcomings. It is time for the State to take a comprehensive look at what is driving these outcomes, to determine root causes and develop and implement innovative strategies that will improve outcomes: for children and for the State.

The Schuyler Center’s December 13 policy forum will bring together committed and creative child welfare agency leaders from New York and sister states, along with individuals with personal child welfare system experience, to discuss transforming often overlooked and under-resourced child welfare systems. The forum will feature remarks from Sheila Poole, New York’s Acting Commissioner of the Office of Children and Family Services; Linda Spears, Massachusetts Commissioner of the Department of Children and Families; and Molly McGrath Tierney, the director of the City of Baltimore’s Department of Social Services. The speakers will also be joined by youth and parent advocates, individuals who have been personally touched by the system. Together, the speakers will highlight innovative and proven practices in child welfare that are improving outcomes for children and families, and which could present a way forward for New York State.

Kate Breslin
President and CEO

[1] Children’s Bureau. (2015, May). CFSR Round 3 Statewide Data Indicators – Workbook.