Merger of ACS and Juvenile Justice Department Approved by City Council

By DNAinfo Staff on November 17, 2010 6:36pm

The exterior of 60 Lafayette Street, the family court building.
The exterior of 60 Lafayette Street, the family court building.
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By Jill Colvin

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

CITY HALL — The merger of the Department of Juvenile Justice and the Administration for Children's Services was approved by the City Council Wednesday, bringing two of the city's most criticized agencies under one roof.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg first announced the merger plans during his State of the City address in January, four years after the brutal murder of 7-year-old Nixzmary Brown by her abusive family, an incident that led to sweeping reforms at the ACS and disciplinary actions for six ACS workers involved in her case.

Officials said the merger is intended to provide better services for young people who often deal with both agencies as they pass from troubled homes into juvenile courts.

"By merging the City’s juvenile detention and child welfare programs, we will strengthen our ability to improve long-term outcomes for youth involved with the juvenile justice system — many of whom have also been in the child welfare system," Bloomberg said in a statement following the vote.

Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs described the merger as "a critical step in the progress of the City’s juvenile justice reform efforts."

The new combined agency will go by the name the Division of Youth and Family Justice at Children's Services.

The city also intends to outline plans next summer on new strategies for dealing with youth who break the law. The city said the proposals emphasize community and family-based treatments over detention.