City Council Passes Stricter ACS Oversight Legislation

The City Council in their stated meeting on Oct. 21 approved a legislative package to hold the City’s Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) more accountable and better help families dealing with the agency

The Council noted that removing a child from his or her home is a last resort but too often ACS relies on emergency removals, which allow the agency to remove a child without going through family court. 

“Today’s passage of bills in the ACS Accountability Act is an important step and I celebrate the increased information these bills will bring to families and the council about the ACS process,” said City Council Member Stephen Levin (D-Brooklyn), chair of the General Welfare Committee and the sponsor of two of the bills.  

“The General Welfare Committee is committed to ensuring that parents who interface with the child welfare system have the information and resources they need and deserve. We have a duty to ensure the process is as fair as possible to protect children and families,” he added.

The first bill requires ACS to provide parents and/or caretakers with written information about their right to request a fair hearing to challenge a report made against them during an ACS child protective investigation.

The Council also approved measures that requires ACS to report on the total number of emergency removals of children each quarter, providing information disaggregated by race, community district, and primary language. 

Another bill requires ACS to create a plan to address disparities identified in the report. A final measure in the package requires ACS to annually submit to the Council information on how long it takes for the families of children in ACS custody to visit their child after a placement or transfer, how many children are placed in boroughs outside of where they are from; and to report on emergency removal cases.

“My bill Introduction 1719 requires the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) to report to the Council on how long it takes for the families of children in ACS custody to visit their child after a placement or transfer, as well as the number of children who are placed out of their original borough,” said Council Member Margaret Chin (D-Manhattan). “Requiring additional reporting from an agency that has an outsized impact on parents of color and non-English speaking immigrants is extremely important and I am pleased to see this particular bill moving forward. Intro 1719 was not created as a stand-alone bill, however, and the Council’s oversight must not be limited to simply increasing an agency’s reporting.

An ACS spokesperson said the agency will comply with all the new regulations.

“ACS values transparency and the need to share our data with advocates, providers, elected officials and the general public. We look forward to working closely with the New York City Council in implementing these bills,” said the spokesperson.

-Morgan C. Mullings contributed to this story

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