Monday, July 30, 2018

UPDATE, AUG 2, 2018: ACS: We DO disclose total number of removals; but we don’t say how often judges overrule us at the first hearing.

Previously, we reported that New York City’s child welfare agency, the Administration for Children’s Services, omits from its “Flash Monthly Indicator”  reports to the press and the public an entire category of children taken from their parents. ACS now says those removals ARE included in grand totals, but not broken out so the public can see how often these types of removals occur.

The category involves those cases where the child is removed with no prior approval by a judge.  Then, at the first court hearing, either ACS decides the removal was unnecessary or a judge refuses to approve it.

So the child endured the trauma of foster care needlessly.

When we queried ACS about this, their initial reply, included in full here, left us with the impression that these removals were not included anywhere in its public reports.  Indeed, the ACS response specifically states "As you noted, the FLASH report does not include cases where a remand was not approved at the first hearing, or a decision was postponed to a later hearing." Emphasis in original.  Since the total number of entries in other documents is almost exactly the same as the total in the FLASH reports, it appeared that this category of removal was not included in those reports either.

In response to a follow-up query, ACS now says that impression was wrong. ACS now says that the statement about these removals not being in the FLASH report applied only to one part of the FLASH report.  ACS now says the total number of entries into care are reported elsewhere in the Flash Monthly Indicators report and in the Mayor’s Management Report do include cases in which the child was returned home at or before the first court hearing.

But what we still don’t know is how often ACS resorts to the most drastic form of removal – taking a child on-the-spot – only to have a court say the agency was wrong.