Office of Children and Family Services

Juvenile Justice and Opportunities for Youth

Frequently Asked Questions

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What is the “Close to Home” Initiative?

Close to Home is a juvenile justice reform initiative designed to help keep youth close to their home communities. The initiative requires juvenile delinquent youths from New York City, who the Family Court has determined need placement in other than secure settings, to be placed with the New York City Administration for Children Services (ACS).

The Close to Home initiative began with youth in non-secure settings in the fall of 2012. The second phase involves youth in limited secure settings. Both phases are contingent on the New York City submitting detailed plans to the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) for its approval.

The state will continue to maintain secure settings for juvenile delinquents and juvenile offenders in need of secure placement statewide. Additionally, OCFS will continue to maintain non-secure and limited secure facilities for youth who are from the rest of the state and in need of those levels of care.

What is the goal of Close to Home?

This legislation transforms the juvenile justice system by authorizing New York City to create a continuum of services to treat and return young people to the community prepared to succeed and become productive adults. The program:

  • Provides an effective continuum of diversion, supervision, treatment and confinement so that that the most appropriate level of care is provided for all youth, consistent with public safety;
  • Keeps youth close to home to minimize separation from their families and build on positive connections between young people and their communities;
  • Provides accountability through both internal and external oversight;
  • Promotes family and community involvement to strengthen positive family and community supports;
  • Is based on evidence-informed practices so  that programs and services have improved outcomes for youth, maintained public safety, reduced recidivism and unwarranted racial/ethnic disparities; and
  • Provides effective reintegration services to support  connections to appropriate educational services and positive behavioral supports and/or treatments when youth transition out of placement

How does “Close to Home” work?

New York City has developed separate, comprehensive plans for both the non-secure and limited secure phases.  The plans must be approved by OCFS, in consultation with the Office of Mental Health (OMH) and the Office for Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS).  

The plans specifically address many issues, including, but not limited to:

  • How evidence-informed services will be provided to meet the educational, mental health, substance abuse, and aftercare needs of youth while maintaining public safety;
  • How New York City will maintain ongoing local community and stakeholder engagement;
  • How youth will be served in the least restrictive setting necessary to maintain public safety;
  • How New York City will implement gender specific programming and establish policies to meet the specialized needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered youth; and
  • How the initiative will work to reduce the disproportionate minority confinement of youth.

How can the public give input?

The initiative specifically requires ongoing stakeholder and community input into the program’s implementation and effectiveness, including a public hearing process, which must take place prior the plans being submitted to OCFS for approval. 

What is the timeline for Close to Home?

 A. Non-Secure Placements:

ACS began to accept youth into non-secure facilities in the fall of 2012—youth who were placed in OCFS custody had their custody transferred between September of 2012 and the spring of 2013.   In late spring 2013, OCFS completed the transfer of youth from state custody into ACS custody. In total there were 238 youth transferred to NYC custody from the OCFS facilities, voluntary agencies, or who were in the community on aftercare. 

B. Limited Secure Placements:

After the effective date of the approved limited secure plan, all youth placed on a delinquency matter in a New York City Family court who require limited secure placement will be in the custody of ACS and placed within the City’s continuum of services. OCFS will begin transfer of youth who were placed by New York City family court in limited secure placements from OCFS custody to ACS custody. OCFS must file petitions to transfer custody of such youth within 90 days of the effective date of the limited secure plan, unless it is determined that it would be detrimental to the educational, emotional, mental or physical well-being of a particular youth.

Who will oversee the process?

OCFS has ongoing, robust oversight of the New York City system. This includes regular review of data, case record reviews, on-site inspections, and submission of an annual report by the City.  Additionally, OCFS has licensing and regulatory authority over the authorized agencies providing residential services to youth.

If OCFS determines that ACS is failing to provide for youth in the program, OCFS can require ACS submit a corrective action plan. OCFS will retain authority to withhold funding and/or terminate the initiative if New York City fails to implement the program in accordance with any regulation or any portion of a corrective action plan intended to prevent imminent danger to the health, safety or welfare of youth served under the initiative.  The legislation also sunsets in 2018, providing opportunity for legislative reassessment of the initiative.