This year, ACS celebrates 20 years of dedicated service to New York City children and families. As we’ve grown as an agency - one thing hasn’t changed - our unwavering commitment to help our young people and families overcome challenges and reach their full potential.
Learn more about how ACS has built upon the City’s historical decision to create a standalone agency for children and families through a range of innovative services and programs in the community.
- 1996: The Child Welfare Administration, a division of NYC Human Resources Administration is abolished. Created after the tragic death of six-year-old Elisa Izquierdo, The NYC Administration for children’s Services (ACS) created by Executive Order as a stand-alone child welfare, childcare, Head Start and child support agency. Nicholas Scoppetta, who spent time in foster care as a child is appointed as ACS’ first Commissioner.
- 1998: ACS and the New York Police Department form Instant Response Teams to conduct join investigations on child fatality cases, severe child abuse cases and sexual abuse cases.
- 1999: To address the impact of domestic violence on children and families, ACS creates Domestic Violence Coordinator position, expands specialized training Family Violence Prevention Project to guide policy and long-term solutions to help children and parents to be safe, while holding abusers accountable.
- 2000: From 1998 to 2000, foster care census drops by nearly a quarter. ACS dedicates the Children’s Center, the first building specifically designed to welcome children entering foster care in a friendly, state-of-art environment. To better support children and families in their communities, ACS awards nearly $800 million in contracts for foster care, preventive services and homemaking services to neighborhood-based non-profit providers.
- 2001: New York City votes to make ACS a permanent agency, making it the first free-standing, chartered agency in the city’s history solely devoted to children and families. ACS reaches a critical milestone when the number of children receiving preventive surpasses the number of children enter foster care. William Bell appointed Commissioner.
- 2002: ACS forms teams of mental health, domestic violence and substance abuse specialists housed on-site at borough offices to provide real-time assistance to staff working with families.
- 2003: New York City’s third Child Advocacy Center opens to provide comprehensive care for child abuse survivors and their families from ACS, pediatricians, NYPD detectives, social workers and others to reduce need for children to retell their injuries.
- 2004: John Mattingly appointed Commissioner. ACS begins dramatic reduction of the use of institutional care for youth and ensuring they are placed with families. Over 500 group home beds are eliminated over a two-year period. In 2004, there were 23,000 fewer children in foster care than in 1996.
- 2006: Modeled after the NYPD’s CompStat, ACS creates ChildStat, a weekly meeting where extensive data is reviewed to identify emerging trends and meet goals of reducing caseloads and improving supervision. Check out the latest ACS data.
To begin to address racial disparities within our child welfare system, ACS establishes the Racial Equity & Cultural Competence Committee which is focused on raising awareness of race and institutionalism racism play in child welfare outcomes. That same year, the agency’s LGBTQ Strategic Plan is released to amplify awareness of the significant needs for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people and families.
- 2007: ACS begins rolling out major initiative called “Improved Outcomes for Children” to strengthen oversight of its partner contracted agencies who provide preventive and foster care. The initiative delegated case management to the providers, created stronger monitoring and evaluation of the agencies, and creating incentives for demonstrating positive outcomes.
- 2008: Communities are key allies in keeping children safe and helping families get the support and resources they need. ACS launches its Community Partnership initiative in seven neighborhoods to promote community coalitions.
- 2010: The NYC Department of Juvenile Justice merges with ACS, creating the ACS Division of Youth and Family Justice. The integration allows ACS to operate and manage a range of juvenile justice services from preventive services like the ACS Family Assessment Program and secure and non-detention facilities.
- 2011: Ronald Richter is appointed Commissioner.
- 2012: For many years, New York City youth involved in the juvenile justice system were placed outside of city, sometimes many miles away from their communities and families. In 2012, New York State passes landmark legislation called Close to Home, which allows young people adjudicated by New York City Family Court to be placed in non-secure facilities near their families. ACS works to set up services and residential-like facilities for youth in neighborhoods in and around the five boroughs. Learn more about Close to Home.
This year, ACS also launches EarlyLearn NYC, a major innovation in child care and early education. EarlyLearn NYC marks the first time in nearly 50 years, the City dramatically changes the child care system to bring consistent quality early care and education to children and families in our lowest income communities.
- 2013: ACS renamed the Children’s Center in recognition of former Commissioner Scoppetta.
ACS dramatically expands the use of evidence-based services for families in order to prevent cases of child maltreatment and reduce the use of foster care. The foster care census declines to under 13,000. That same year, ACS receives approval from the federal and state government to pilot evidence-based models in foster care programs.
After creating the ACS Office of LGBTQ Policy & Practice, the agency successfully trains thousands of staff and partners to carry out the agency’s newly created policy ensuring non-discrimination and affirming services for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning young people—the strongest in the country. This builds on other accomplishments, including ACS’ “Be The Reason” campaign, a foster/adoptive parent recruitment that features the LGBT community. Learn more about our work.
- 2014: Gladys Carrión is appointed Commissioner. Commissioner Carrión charges ACS to refocus the agency to concentrate on ensuring the overall well-being of children and families, beyond the historical child welfare framework of permanency and safety. Read more about her vision for well-being.
ACS works with the Mayor’s Office to create the New York City Children’s Cabinet, over 20 city agencies joined together to promote collaboration and coordination around issues impacting the health, safety and well-being of families and children.
Along with the NYC Department of Education and others, ACS joins the Mayor’s commitment to bring prekindergarten to every four-year old. Through EarlyLearn NYC, over 12,000 pre-k seats were made available.
- 2015: ACS launches the major foster care initiative - Strong Families NYC - across all foster providers, touching the lives of up to 13,000 children a year. Strong Families NYC brings four major innovations, including reducing foster care caseloads to record lows, comprehensive trauma screening for every young person, and two evidence-based models.
- To support the professional development and continued learning opportunities for ACS’ staff, the agency establishes the ACS Workforce Institute in partnership with the City University of New York. ACS expands its Family Assessment Response (FAR) initiative, a differential response program; citywide that allows more families involved in a child abuse and neglect report to receive assistance without the need for court involvement.
- 2016: The number of children in foster care drops to under 10,000 for the first time, as ACS prioritizes building pathways for success for youth transitioning out of care. ACS announces that youth in foster care can attend the City University of New York without worrying about paying for tuition and other expenses.
ACS joins the city’s unprecedented commitment to mental health awareness and care, ThriveNYC, by bringing dedicated social worker staff to support EarlyLearn programs to support classroom environments that help children and families cope with stress and trauma.