The Administration for Children’s Services is New York City’s child welfare agency. The agency protects the city’s children from abuse and neglect and provides neighborhood-based services to help ensure children grow up in safe, permanent homes with strong families.

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Planning and Design for Juvenile Justice

The Administration for Children’s Services Juvenile Justice Initiative (JJI) sought to expand its array of reentry programs for youth involved in New York City’s juvenile justice system. In two initiatives, Bennett Midland worked with the JJI executive team to plan, design, and propose reentry programs for: (1) delinquent youth struggling with substance abuse issues, and (2) Juvenile Offenders held in detention facilities.

In the first, Bennett Midland worked with JJI to develop and propose a plan for the first substance abuse reentry program for youth involved in the New York City juvenile justice system, and facilitated a strategic partnership between JJI and the Adolescent Portable Therapy program at the Vera Institute of Justice. Our analysis demonstrated the presence of substance use and dependency behaviors among juvenile delinquents, and provided insight around those youth’s experiences in the juvenile justice system.

In the second, the Bennett Midland team worked with JJI to design a reentry demonstration project to serve Juvenile Offenders (youth between the ages of 13-15 who have committed the most severe crimes). We performed data analyses, surveyed relevant literature, and planned interviews to target issues concerning recidivism, mental illness, and family dysfunction in the Juvenile Offender population. This reentry initiative would constitute the first of its kind in New York City.

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Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice

New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) has made it a critical priority to improve responses for foster care youth who are arrested or incarcerated. Kids in foster care often spend more time in jail, have less access to incarceration alternatives, and do not generally fare as well as their non-foster care counterparts. Project Confirm was designed to support foster youth who come into contact with the juvenile justice system. More than ten years after Confirm’s launch, ACS engaged Bennett Midland to assess program operations. Based on a comprehensive review, Bennett Midland generated a series of strategic and operational recommendations geared toward program improvement. These included: realigning Confirm’s mission, redefining the target population, and adjusting the key responsibilities of program staff and managers.

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Immediate Response, Greater Impact

New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) sought to overhaul its Family Assessment Program, with the goal of ensuring a more immediate response—and the greatest possible impact—in providing services for adolescents and families in crisis.

Bennett Midland was engaged to help ACS shape a plan for realizing these strategic goals. This engagement raised important questions: How should services be organized to most effectively help families? What services are already in place and what should be developed? How should the operations of this new program be structured?

Bennett Midland conducted a comprehensive assessment of the existing program, target population, and national best practices. Through extensive data-gathering, we were able to produce a complete, quantitative description of the children and families served by the Family Assessment Program. With this analysis as a foundation, we collaborated with agency executives to design objectives for the new program and articulate a service model. We worked with ACS to develop a detailed implementation plan, which supported the Family Assessment Program directors during the program roll-out.

In addition, ACS sought a quality assurance framework to evaluate the effectiveness of its new Family Assessment Program. Bennett Midland quickly identified a set of measurable performance indicators to track program results, detect procedural problems, and promote staff accountability. Bennett Midland then developed a comprehensive reporting framework and shaped a data collection strategy to support ongoing performance management.

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