At a May 7th public hearing, Adrian Guzman of The Center for HIV Law and Policy (CHLP), and Dr. Jeffrey Birnbaum, Program Director of the Health and Education Alternatives for Teens (HEAT) Program, presented testimony on the need for written policies and standards to guide the New York City Administration for Children's Services (ACS) new initiative, Close to Home. The hearings, held on May 7 and May 8, allowed for public comments on ACS's implementation of the Close to Home legislation, which plans for the transition of youth placed in non-secure placement from the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) custody to ACS custody.
Guzman, who heads up CHLP's Teen SENSE initiative, which supports policies guaranteeing LGBTQ-inclusive sexual health services to youth in state custody, emphasized that the Close to Home draft plan. would benefit from the sound consistency of CHLP's Model Policies and Standards for sexual health care, sexual health education and staff training. He stressed the importance of refining the current ACS quality assurance systems that assess placements and provider agency performance and offered CHLP's assistance in partnering with ACS to ensure implementation and enforcement of the draft plan's finalized policies.
Guzman was joined by Dr. Jeff Birnbaum, a Teen SENSE member who also is one of CHLP's issue specialists, and director of the only comprehensive care program of its kind in Brooklyn that provides age and developmentally appropriate, culturally competent HIV testing, treatment, and supportive services for heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth. Dr. Birnbaum focused his suggestions on the need for improvement and consistency in medical care for transgender youth in ACS and OCFS custody.
Also testifying at the hearing were New York City Council Member Sara M. Gonzalez, representatives from the New York State Public Employees Federation, Judy Yu from the Correctional Association of New York, ACS staff, parent advocates, and youth previously and/or currently in state custody, and others.
Guzman's written testimony may be read in full here.
Dr. Birnbaum's written testimony may be read in full here.