ACS has been a pioneer in the implementation of preventive services to safely avoid foster care entry. While ACS has also made significant gains in addressing the needs of children in foster care over the last several years, important opportunities remain to make a positive difference in the lives of children and families. The next phase of this work is outlined in the five-year ACS Foster Care Strategic Blueprint for FY 2019-FY2023. The five-year plan builds upon the progress made under the 2016-2018 blueprint, and is informed by the recommendations of the Interagency Foster Care Task Force, the findings from a major review of the cases of 2,200 children (the Rapid Permanency Reviews), the findings from the ACS Youth Experience Survey of youth ages 13+, an examination of older youth permanency, an intensive analysis of foster care performance data and input from a range of stakeholders including youth, parents, providers, advocates and others.
In March 2018, the Foster Care Interagency Task Force released its report including 16 recommendations designed to improve outcomes for children and families in the foster care system. These recommendations were incorporated into the ACS Five Year Foster Care Strategic Blueprint issued in May 2018. Since the Task Force Report was released in March, we have completed some recommendations and many more are well underway.
To name just a few examples: (1) ACS is launching pilots with four foster care providers to advance the Kinship and Family Time recommendations from the Task Force in order to improve safety, permanency and well-being outcomes for children in foster care; (2) ACS and DYCD have completed a data match that identifies which youth in foster care are and are not in DYCD afterschool programs, and this information is being used to help increase utilization; and (3) DOHMH launched a High Fidelity Wraparound (HFW) pilot in September 2018 for NYC children with serious mental health needs.
ACS developed and issued the ACS Foster Care Strategic Blueprint FY 2016-FY 2018 in January 2016. The Blueprint identified key priorities and strategies for improving case practice and results across the foster care continuum—from family reunification to kinship placement to adoption to supporting older youth in care. This focus, combined with the unprecedented investments made by the de Blasio administration to strengthen child welfare, has yielded promising results.