When you think about first responders, your first thought is probably the NYPD or FDNY, but with its first-ever citywide week of appreciation, the Administration for Children’s Services wants you to start including child protective specialists in your thought process.
“Child protective specialists care deeply about children, and they work around the clock to make sure kids are safe and families have the support they need,” ACS Commissioner David A. Hansell told Metro. “Too often, the work of child protective specialists is invisible or misunderstood, and this citywide week of appreciation is a chance for New Yorkers to thank the people who serve as first responders for children.”
According to the ACS, there are roughly 1,700 CPS that work in 17 offices across the five boroughs and investigate nearly 60,000 reported cases of child abuse or neglect each year.
It’s often a thankless job, one that also often garners negative press or public misconceptions, which is why CPS Supervisor Marie Henry is thankful for the appreciation week, which runs through June 10.
“I think it’s amazing because I don’t think the public realizes how much we have to put our families on hold to make sure your kid is safe,” she shared. “If you look at how many successful stories we have as opposed to what’s portrayed in the media, it’s a great thing to be recognized. Everyone likes to be applauded for their achievements, which is something you don’t normally see when it comes to CPS, but you do with the NYPD, FDNY, but when are we openly rewarded in the public?”
Right now actually, as part of the appreciation week, ACS employees like Henry, who has been with the department for 10 years, will be featured in an ad campaign and on a newly launched ACS microsite to highlight them and their jobs, which also aims to inspire others to consider a career with child services.
ACS plans to hire 400 new specialists over the next few months, and while the job is often intense and, again, thankless, Henry said it also has its rewards, such as getting updates and graduation pictures from past clients years later.
“You get to see a family stay together, see them strengthen, and to be that agent of change, to be the one to work with them and work with them over time, it’s very rewarding,” she said. “If you like servicing others, it’s a great opportunity. And if your passion is to work with kids, this is definitely the agency. That’s our goal — to focus on the well-being of every child and their safety.”
For more info, visit nyc.gov/CPS.