Child Welfare Watch

Baby Steps: Poverty, Chronic Stress, and New York's Youngest Children
CWW Volume 23, FALL 2013

Baby Steps:

Poverty, chronic stress, and New York's youngest children


Our new Child Welfare Watch report investigates the impact of poverty, trauma and chronic stress on the city's infants and toddlers, and illuminates how nurturing caregivers can buffer young children from the negative impacts of adversity. We report on the scientific evidence that stress can harm babies' development. We document the dearth of resources for the parents of stressed or traumatized young children and describe pockets of help provided by creative mental health projects in a few NYC neighborhoods.

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CWW 22
CWW Volume 22, winter 2012

Brushes with the Law:
Young New Yorkers and the Criminal Justice System


In the past decade, New York City has transformed its treatment of children and young adults who get in trouble with the law. As the city enters its final year under the administration of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, we consider the progress of reforms and the places where they've been stymied. And we look at the impact on communities that have long been destabilized by cycles of crime, police scrutiny, arrest and incarceration.

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CWW Volume 21, winter 2012

One Step Back:
The Delayed Dream of Community Partnerships


In 2007, the city launched a plan to increase tranparency and community participation in the child welfare system. This edition of Child Welfare Watch looks at the progress of the Community Partnership Program—its strengths, limitations, and the vision it still represents for a system more accountable to the communities it serves.

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CWW Volumes 19 & 20, winter 2010/2011

In Transition:
A Better Future for Youth Leaving Foster Care


Last year, more than 1,100 New Yorkers aged 18 or older left the city's foster care system. A few were enrolled in college. Others found steady jobs and affordable places to live. But many more were on the insecure fringes of the economy, without stable housing or income. This special double edition of Child Welfare Watch reports that homelessness and severe economic hardship are widespread for young people aging out of New York City foster care.

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CWW Volume 18, FALL 2009

A Need for Correction:
Reforming New York's Juvenile Justice System

Edited By Andrew White, clara hemphill and Kendra Hurley

Coming in the wake of a federal Department of Justice investigation that found widespread use of excessive force by staff at four OCFS facilities upstate, the Fall 2009 issue of Child Welfare Watch identifies shortcomings in mental health services and explores possible solutions, including the expansion of alternatives to incarceration for juvenile delinquents.

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CWW Volume 17, winter 2009

Hard Choices:
Caring for the Children of Mentally Ill Parents

Edited By Andrew White, clara hemphill and Kendra Hurley

Today, adults who struggle with mental illness are as likely as anyone else to become parents. Yet the city's human services programs are neither structured to support single and low-income parents with mental illness who are trying to raise their children, nor able to systematically evaluate a parent's ability to care for her children despite her illness. The Winter 2009 issue of Child Welfare Watch documents issues facing parents with psychiatric problems who come in contact with the city's child welfare system.

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CWW Volume 16, Summer 2008

Homes Away from Home:
Foster Parents for a New Generation

Edited By Andrew White, Kendra Hurley and Barbara Solow

New York City's foster care system has made significant headway in helping create family homes for young people who once would have spent months or even years in group homes and residential treatment centers. Fewer foster teens—especially younger teenagers—are placed in institutions and a fast-growing percentage are moving in with families. 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. The Summer 2008 issue of Child Welfare Watch documents how foster parents are adjusting to their increasingly demanding role, and how the system is struggling to meet their needs—as well as those of the children in their care, which may include anything from mental health care to prenatal care and parenting programs for pregnant teens.

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CWW Volume 15, winter 2008

Against the Clock:
The Struggle to Move Kids into Permanent Homes

Edited By Andrew White, Kendra Hurley and Barbara Solow

New York City is charging a growing number of families with abuse and neglect, leaving Family Court overwhelmed and more children spending longer periods in foster care. The number of abuse and neglect filings against parents by city attorneys has leapt a remarkable 150 percent since the child abuse murder of 7-year-old Nixzmary Brown in January 2006. On the two-year anniversary of her death, the Winter 2008 issue of Child Welfare Watch explores the challenges of moving the city's foster children into safe, permanent homes quickly, a decade after federal laws sought to improve foster care systems nationwide. It also looks at proposed legislation to help parents in prison and residential substance abuse treatment centers hold onto their children, as well as a city program that asks foster parents of infants to prepare to adopt as they simultaneously help the babies' parents bring their children home.

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CWW Volume 14, Summer 2007

Pressures and Possibilities:
Supporting Families and Children at Home

Edited By Andrew White, Kendra Hurley and Barbara Solow

New York City's family support system is at a critical juncture. Since 2005, the city has increased its investment by more than $70 million per year in preventive family support services. But those investments have coincided with a surge in abuse and neglect reports and a 53 percent increase in the number of children placed in foster care in 2006. The Summer 2007 issue of Child Welfare Watch explores the transformation of the city's network of nonprofit family support agencies as they become increasingly central to the Bloomberg administration's strategy for protecting children from abuse and neglect. The latest issue of the Watch uncovers tensions shaping the work of family support in New York City.

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CWW Volume 13, Winter 2006-2007

Half Full, Half Empty:
Children and Families with Special Needs

Edited By Andrew White and Barbara Solow

There are hundreds of New York City children with developmental disabilities in foster care, and thousands more in families investigated each year by child protective services following reports of suspected abuse or neglect. But due to decades of conflict between the city and state, many of these young people and their families go without the federal- and state-funded support services—such as respite care and in-home assistance—for which they are eligible and which can make it possible for them to live healthy and more fulfilling lives. This edition of the Watch describes the impact of this longstanding interagency dispute. The report also explores new, effective advocacy efforts launched on behalf of the many foster children who rely on special education services.

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CWW Volume 12, Winter 2005-2006

A Matter of Judgment:
Deciding the Future of Family Court in NYC

Edited By Andrew White and Alyssa Katz

This issue of Child Welfare Watch reports on the city's Family Court, the beginnings of reform and the chaotic upsurge in cases following the Nixzmary Brown murder. Even before the rapid increase in abuse and neglect cases filed since mid-January 2006, Family Court had long been an institution overwhelmed by the requirements of its mandate. It is the one place in the child welfare system where parents justifiably expect well-informed, top-quality decisions about the future of their children—but most cases take eight months to a year before reaching a fact—finding hearing where judges rule whether or not abuse or neglect has even occurred. Meanwhile, children remain in foster care. Some cases take far longer to resolve. This edition of the Watch also reports on a huge increase in 2005 in the number of juvenile delinquency arrests in NYC, a likely result of increased police activity in public schools.

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CWW Volume 11, Summer 2005

The Innovation Issue:
New Initiatives in New York Child Welfare

Edited By Andrew White and Alyssa Katz

This issue of Child Welfare Watch highlights some of the new initiatives that are improving parental visits for children in foster care, providing homes where families can reunify after children have been removed from the home, and creating much-needed pilot mental health clinics in foster care agencies. Perhaps most important, new efforts at preventing the placement of children in foster care have helped reduce the number of children in the system to a new low: for the first time in decades, fewer than 5,000 children were placed in New York City foster care in the fiscal year ending in June.

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CWW Volume 10, winter 2004-2005

Pivot Point:
Managing the Transformation of Child Welfare in NYC

Edited by Andrew White and Kim Nauer

This report documents contradictions that have emerged as the city reduces the size of its foster care system, but struggles to boost investments in the alternative, preventive family support services that help keep families stable and together. The authors explain the changes overtaking the nonprofit foster care sector, look at the impact of the system's contraction on the city's efforts to build a neighborhood-based system, outline the impact on teens of the closure of group homes, and present recommendations and solutions for some of the most pressing problems in the foster care system.

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CWW Volume 9, fall 2003

Tough Decisions:
Dealing with Domestic Violence in Child Welfare

Edited by Andrew White, John Courtney, Rachel Blustain and Hilary Russ

This report documents changes in policy, practice and enforcement in the wake of the federal injunction imposed in the Nicholson v. Williams class action lawsuit. The lawsuit challenged the practice of the NYC Administration for Children's Services, in cases of suspected abuse and neglect that involve domestic violence, of too often removing children from their mothers unnecessarily and circumventing the women's due process rights.

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CWW Volume 8, fall 2002

Uninvited Guests:
Teens in New York City Foster Care

Edited by Andrew White with Kathleen McGowan

This edition of Child Welfare Watch offers an in-depth examination of the issues facing teenagers in New York City's foster care system.

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December 2001

Supporting Stronger Families and Neighborhoods:
City Hall and New York's Family and Children's Services

Recommendations to the New Mayor and City Council at a Time of Transition in New York City Government

By Advisory Board of the Child Welfare Watch project

The Bloomberg administration has an opportunity to gain new trust from communities that have long held deep suspicion for City Hall and the city's child welfare authorities. New policies should build upon the strong accomplishments of recent years to establish a more permanently effective and humane child welfare and human services system. This report provides specific recommendations and proposed policy changes to form a roadmap for a sustained and ambitious child welfare reform effort.

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About This Project

CHILD WELFARE WATCH provides in-depth investigative reporting, news and analysis on children and family services in New York and beyond. We track the real-life impact of public policy and reform initiatives on families and the people who work with them. Our groundbreaking coverage has contributed to the creation of more responsive, more effective child and family services systems in New York.

Our reporting and research findings also inform the recommendations and solutions included in each edition. These are drafted in collaboration with Child Welfare Watch advisory board, which includes a wide spectrum of nonprofit leaders, former public officials, scholars, parents and advocates.

Child Welfare Watch was founded in 1997. It is made possible thanks to the generous support of the Child Welfare Fund, The Ira W. DeCamp Foundation, the Viola W. Bernard Foundation and the Sirus Fund.

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