David Bookstaver, Director
Mai Yee, Assistant Director
Date: May 21, 2003
|COURTS, STATE, CITY AND COUNTIES ANNOUNCE MAJOR OVERHAUL OF THE STATE'S ADOPTION SYSTEM: Includes the Adoption of 5,000 Children by Year's End|
|NEW YORK - New York's Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye,
Governor George E. Pataki, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, New York City Administration
for Children's Services (ACS) Commissioner William C. Bell and Jim Morris,
an adoptive parent, joined together today at the ACS Children's Center
in Manhattan to announce a historic partnership called "Adoption Now."
This collaboration was formed to help expedite adoptions for New York State's
children in foster care who have a goal of adoption.
The project, which was spearheaded by Chief Judge Judith Kaye, is a joint initiative between the courts, the State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS), ACS and local districts of social services statewide that aims to find permanent, nurturing adoptive homes for those children in foster care who cannot return home. The goal is to finalize the adoptions of 5,000 children statewide by the end of the calendar year - 3,800 in New York City alone.
By identifying the systemic barriers to timely adoptions and implementing reforms to streamline the process, Adoption Now will help to better achieve permanent, long-term improvements to the adoption process throughout New York State. The plan is to reduce the time it takes to finalize adoptions for foster children in New York State from three or four years to one year.
Since 1995, New York State has reduced the number of children in foster care by more than 31 percent, from nearly 54,000 to 37,068 at the end of 2002. New York City has reduced the number of children in foster care by 59 percent since 1995, from 43,000 to approximately 25,500 today. Statewide, approximately 6,000 children are freed for adoption.
Chief Judge Kaye said, "It is so gratifying to see the genuine progress
made since last November when I first reached out to OCFS Commissioner
John Johnson and ACS Commissioner William Bell to begin an unprecedented
collaboration with the Family Court to expedite the adoption of thousands
of New York State children.
Mayor Bloomberg said, "During the past seven years ACS has made tremendous strides in reforming the children's services system in New York City, and the continuing increase in adoptions over the years is just one indicator. The Adoption Now Initiative takes this reform even one step further, with no additional cost to taxpayers. I am tremendously proud of the work that Commissioner Bell and his staff have accomplished in this, and all areas of child welfare. I urge any New Yorker who has ever considered adoption to call 311 for more information since there are thousands of children in need of a home."
Adoptive parent Jim Morris said, "The joy that has come from adopting six boys between the ages of 11 and 23 over the past five years is immeasurable. Our family is rich in love as a result of these adoptions, and I'm so happy to be the father of these tremendous young men."
Late last year, Chief Judge Kaye convened a meeting of state and local government child welfare agencies to create a working group that could identify ways to expedite the adoptions of children in foster care statewide who were still awaiting permanency even though their parents' custodial rights had been terminated. The result of that meeting was the "Adoption Now" Initiative.
The committee continues to meet regularly to further streamline the system and, to date, has accomplished the following: