I-Team: NYC's Children Services Center Becomes Unintentional Shelter - NBC New York
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I-Team: NYC's Children Services Center Becomes Unintentional Shelter

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    It was designed to be a child-friendly place where abused and neglected children go for a few hours while they wait for a foster family but on any given day dozens of children have been living there. The I-team’s Melissa Russo takes us inside for an exclusive look at some of the city’s proposed solutions. (Published Monday, June 1, 2015)

    New York City's Administration for Children Services center is designed to care for abused and neglected young children for a few hours when they enter foster care, but it's become a home to some for months at a time, the I-Team has learned.

    The center, located on First Avenue and 28th Street, was designed to care for children for just a few hours or overnight until the city can find them a suitable foster home. But the center has become overcrowded, often by troubled teens.

    That's in part because the city decided to close group homes in recent years and place the teens with families -- but the families never materialized. 

    The center, designed for 55 children, has been over capacity on many nights in recent months and was housing 90 children on a a particularly bad day last month. 

    Jerry McCaffery of the program Mercy First is building one solution to the current problem: his agency was recently awarded a $6.2 million contract to open a 12-bed reception center for teenage girls in Park Slope later this month.

    "Not every kid succeeds in being in a family," he said. "I use the analogy of kittens and cats. Everyone loves kittens, but not everyone is willing to take in a cat that's been through a lot in their life." 

    The icty is also seeking a contractor to build a second reception center. 

    The union representing workers at the children's center say it's a positive step. 

    "These are our young people, and it's our responsibility," said Anthony Wells of the Local 371 union. 

    Gladys Carrion, the city's commissioner of the Administration for Children's Services, told the I-Team that Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to give her an additional $6 million to create more permanent staff positions at the children's center. 

    She's grateful for the funding, she said, especially because far too many of the workers and nurses there now are hired from temporary agencies and have no special training, which is far from ideal for children living in limbo. 

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