David Hansell, Commissioner, Administration for Children Services, New York City opened the CWLA Conference in the first plenary session on Thursday, April 26. Mr. Hansell focused on the recent advancements New York City has made over the past twenty years in child welfare with foster care caseloads at one time exceeding more than 50,000 children in the late 1990s to less than 9000 children today.

Commissioner Hansell focused on the next steps the City is taking including the ongoing problem of disproportionality in the remaining foster care population with Black and Hispanic children making up most of the children now in care. As part of the city’s efforts the agency will focus on primary prevention to improve and maximize efforts to prevent child abuse before takes place.

Last year New York created and a Division on Children and Family Well-being. The division, announced last fall, is focusing on a two-generation approach that is intended to strengthen children and families. It will partner with other agencies to build on family strengths and break down barriers to a range of basic and important services and resources for at-risk families including health care, housing, education, including early childhood education and employment services.

Part of the New York City presentation was a recently developed display of this country’s and the City’s historical child welfare timeline. The mobile exhibit begins in the 1800’s describing significant points in this nation’s actions and reaction to children and families including such historic trends as orphan trains, the creation of the Social Security Act, child labor laws to more recent decades laws as the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), New York City Wilder lawsuit and the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA). The display includes brief videos. The goal is to shine a light on the disparity and disproportionality in what has evolved as the nation’s child welfare system and to engage viewers in discussion and thought. It is a mobile display that is being moved around to different sites and venues