New York City puts $221 million toward preventing youth from entering foster care

Woman sits with notepad in front of a father, small child and mother.

Woman sits with notepad in front of a father, small child and mother. Shutterstock

Several days after the New York City Administration for Children’s Services published a survey touting its prevention services, the agency announced contract awards totalling $221 million to nonprofits providing services to keep children out of the foster care system and with their families.

The new system represents the first overhaul of the city’s approach to providing prevention services in a decade. All of these services – including case management, substance abuse treatment and various therapeutic interventions – will be available across the five boroughs for the first time, although programs are mostly concentrated in Brooklyn and the Bronx. It will also require providers to incorporate family choice into its programs and expand the city’s use of evidence-based models. These efforts will bring the city a step closer to adjusting to the federal Family First Prevention Services Act, which aims to prioritize family-based foster care over placement in group homes.

University Settlement is the one new provider the city is contracting with to offer these services while some other organizations have seen some shake-ups from their pre-existing contracts. Nonprofits seem to waiting on further details from the city to see just what this means for their programs. 

The New York Foundling, for example, did not get any awards directed toward serving the deaf despite being a longtime provider of family support services targeting people who are hard of hearing, said Bill Baccaglini, president and CEO of the nonprofit.

“I’m not being critical; it’s a wait-and-see and I would just like to see who got it,” he told NYN Media. “But I’m hoping – let me say this to you – I’m hoping someone got it.” He also noted that the lack of preventive contracts awarded to The New York Foundling for services in the Bronx raised questions about how it would set admissions for its Bronx-based charter school focused on kids in the child welfare system and if it would be working with affiliate organizations to offer those services at its foster care facilities in the borough.

Organizations have some time to figure out the logistics: the contracts don’t go into effect until July, although there was some concern about delays in the awards announcement. 

“We were expecting these some weeks ago,” Jim Purcell, president and CEO of The Council of Family and Child Caring Agencies, told NYN Media. “So that’s going to put a real time crunch on getting all these contracts done and in place – but, you know, presumably, it can be done.”