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Adilia Watson

Adilia Watson is the New York state reporter.

New York Juvenile Facility Psychologist Arrested for Years-long Sexual Assault

4/16/2024

New York Juvenile Facility Psychologist Arrested on Sexual Assault Charges

A psychologist working for the state has been arrested in New York on charges that she sexually assaulted eight detained youth.

4/5/2024

Short-Staffed New York Juvenile Facilities Place Detained Youth at Risk, State Investigation Finds

An entrance to the Brookwood Secure Center for Youth in upstate New York. Photo by Steven Yoder.
Self-harm, drugs and violent incidents have skyrocketed in some of New York’s locked juvenile facilities, a state auditor has found, conditions driven by pandemic-fueled staffing shortages and higher populations following a sweeping reform that shifted older teens out of the adult justice system. 

3/13/2024

NY Law Would Scale Back Practice of Billing Parents for Foster Care

A New York bill would limit the state’s practice of charging parents child support for children in foster care.

Youth Services Insider

3/7/2024

New York Gets New Acting Commissioner of State Child Welfare Agency

Gov. Kathy Hochul appointed DaMia Harris-Madden as acting head of the State Office of Children and Family Services, slated to start April 8.

2/14/2024

New York Lawmakers Push For Major Investments in Family Court System

Legislators are seeking a $102 million investment to fix the “overburdened and under-resourced” family courts.

2/9/2024

New York’s Latest Frontier in Fighting Opioid Overdose: All Juvenile Detention Facilities

The first-ever policy requires pre-trial juvenile facilities to train staff to act quickly with life-saving medications.

2/1/2024

New York Poised to Commit Next Round of Funding for the ‘Raise The Age’ Juvenile Justice Reform

Lawmakers are looking at $250M in additional funds for a reform designed to keep older teens out of the adult criminal justice system.

Governors on Both Coasts Face Budget Shortfalls for Serving Children and Families Next Year

1/10/2024

Governors on Both Coasts Face Budget Shortfalls for Serving Children and Families Next Year

The governors of New York and California outlined their state budget plans this week, including services for children and families.

Finally, More Judges Headed to ‘Desperately Overstretched’ New York Family Courts

1/8/2024

New York Governor Clears the Slate For Youth Accused of Minor Misbehavior

Under a new law in New York, the records of young people who have faced family court for minor misbehavior will be expunged at age 21.

New York Assemblymember Latoya Joyner announced her plan to leave office today. Photo courtesy of Joyner's office.

1/4/2024

New York Legislator, a Former Adoptee, Will Soon Step Down

A New York Assemblymember, former adoptee and co-author of the Preserving Family Bonds Act, has announced her plan to leave office.

New York Governor Quietly Pitches Gun Violence Response That Includes Youth Justice Reform Rollbacks

12/11/2023

Governor Once Again Rejects Bill to Expand New York Parents’ Chances for Contact With Their Adopted Children 

The Preserving Family Bonds Act would have allowed a judge to determine whether biological parents could resume contact with adopted children, and the type of contact that would be permitted.

Legislation in New York Allowing Parents to Contact Kids Who’ve Been Adopted on the Governor’s Desk, Again

12/1/2023

Legislation in New York Allowing Parents to Contact Kids Who’ve Been Adopted on the Governor’s Desk, Again

A New York bill that would open the door to communication between children and biological parents whose parental rights have been terminated is being considered by Gov. Kathy Hochul.

11/14/2023

New Legal Advocacy Model Aims to Better Support Rochester-Area Parents in New York Family Court 

New York’s Monroe County is creating a “holistic, interdisciplinary” family defense unit within the local public defender's office.

10/19/2023

New York City Youth and Supporters Rally for Enhanced Juvenile Justice Rights

Dozens of youth and advocates gathered in the Bronx to voice support for two pivotal youth justice bills headed to the state Legislature.

9/27/2023

New York Lawmakers Weigh Calls To Overhaul Mandated Reporting of Child Maltreatment

State lawmakers heard from officials, parents and former foster youth about the need to radically overhaul reporting of child maltreatment. 

8/30/2023

Black Attorneys Give Rochester Residents a Rare Chance to Query Juvenile Justice Officials in a Town Hall

Dozens gathered in Rochester, New York, at a rare meeting of parents, community service providers, and attorneys to discuss juvenile justice.

Photo of Clinton County, New York, parents Mary Moore, left, and Dylan Matthews-Carroll. Provided photo.

8/28/2023

Efforts in Rural New York Communities Aim to Prevent Children From Entering Foster Care

A Clinton County, NY, program reflects far larger efforts nationwide to avoid family separation whenever possible.

Multisystemic Therapy Gives New York Family a Second Chance

7/18/2023

Multisystemic Therapy Gives New York Family a Second Chance

After struggling to get a psychiatric diagnosis for their teen daughter, a New York family is making progress with multisystemic therapy

7/14/2023

Teen Held in New York Juvenile Detention Died of Fentanyl Overdose, Lawsuit Says

Suit alleges employee with more than a dozen prior felony convictions smuggled drugs into the facility and failed to do required check-ins.

7/6/2023

NY Law Would Allow Parents to Stay in Touch with Kids After Losing Legal Rights

The law allows some parents who've lost parental rights to contact their children, even those who have been adopted into other families.

6/28/2023

Ambitious Efforts to Reform New York’s Juvenile Justice System Fail in the Legislature

New York's Clean Slate Act is on its way to the governor's desk, but a slew of juvenile justice reform bills failed to pass the Legislature.

6/1/2023

Long-Sought Rent Subsidy Goes Up for New York Foster Youth Leaving State Care

New York has increased rent subsidies for foster youth aging out of the system for the first time since 1988.

5/17/2023

New York Attorneys and Human Service Workers Get Pay Increase in $229 Billion Budget

New York's $229 billion budget includes pay increases for attorneys representing low-income residents and human services workers.

4/20/2023

‘Solutions Not Suspensions!’ Rochester Parents and Students Rally to Stay in School

A proposed bill in NY would reduce the number of days a student could be suspended in a single school year to 20 days.

4/13/2023

New York’s Runaway and Homeless Minors Can Now Consent to Their Own Health Care 

Under a new law, many more of New York's homeless and runaway youth can now consent to their own health care.

3/29/2023

Former Employee of a New York Juvenile Facility for Girls Accused of Rape

A former staffer at a juvenile facility on Long Island has been jailed following “serious and troubling allegations” that he drugged and raped a 15-year-old girl in his care earlier this year.

3/16/2023

Buffalo Community and Police Come Together to Protect Children Experiencing Parent’s Arrest

Officers in the Buffalo, New York, Police Department who arrest parents are now expected “to minimize trauma experienced by a child.”

3/9/2023

One of New York City’s Oldest Nonprofits Serving Children and Families to Shut its Doors 

A longstanding New York City institution that serves more than 17,000 children and families announced it will shut its doors later this month.

community investment

2/7/2023

New York Child Welfare Advocates Call on Lawmakers to Prevent Foster Care Through Community Investment

New York lawmakers, youth activists and advocates called for direct investments today in communities with high rates of foster care.

2/2/2023

New York Governor Announces Budget Plans, Child Advocates Want More

NY Gov. Kathy Hochul's proposed budget includes serving more than 113,000 additional kids through subsidized child care programs.

1/30/2023

New York Defense Lawyers Push To Defend Teens’ Right to Remain Silent

New York youth justice advocates are rallying around a bill to protect teenage crime suspects from false confessions or self-incrimination.

1/6/2023

New York Judicial Commission Calls out Lack of Diversity on the Family Court Bench

A new report calls for greater demographic balance on the Family Court bench, noting that “the judiciary should reflect the diversity of the communities interacting with the courts.”

1/4/2023

New York Names New Acting Commissioner of Children and Family Services

Attorney Suzanne Miles-Gustave takes over this year as New York’s acting commissioner of the Office of Children and Family Services.

Theater Brings Healing For New York’s Incarcerated Girls

12/21/2022

Theater Brings Healing For New York’s Incarcerated Girls

In New York, a community-based nonprofit offers performing arts as therapy to girls placed in the Brentwood Residential Center, a juvenile facility for low-level offenders.

Records Show Abuse in New York Detention Center Where Teen Died

11/22/2022

Records Show Abuse in New York Detention Center Where Teen Died

The Capital District Juvenile Secure Detention Facility, just north of Albany, where Caprist McBrown died late last month. Photo courtesy of the Capital District Regional Planning Commission.
Increased instances of abuse and neglect have been documented at the juvenile detention facility where a New York teenager died late last month, state documents show. 

Lawsuit Alleges New York Created ‘Extremely Harmful’ Shadow Foster Care System

11/16/2022

Head of New York State’s Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice Agency to Step Down

The head of child welfare and juvenile justice in New York state, Commissioner Sheila Poole, will leave her position in December.

Buffalo Students Voice Concerns Over Suspensions in a Restorative Justice Circle

11/10/2022

Buffalo Students Voice Concerns Over Suspensions in a Restorative Justice Circle

Buffalo, New York students spoke candidly on suspensions and how school norms make them feel in a recent restorative justice circle.

Records Show Abuse in New York Detention Center Where Teen Died

11/1/2022

Teenager Dies in New York Juvenile Detention Facility

A 19 year old held at the Capital District Juvenile Secure Detention Facility in Albany, New York, died while in custody last week.

New York Officials, Advocates Debate Youth Justice Reform Amid Crime Fears

10/14/2022

New York Officials, Advocates Debate Youth Justice Reform Amid Crime Fears

New York lawmakers, judges, lawyers and advocates gathered Thursday for a discussion about the state's 5-year-old "Raise the Age" law.

Parents of New York School Children Want More Support for their Kids and Families

9/29/2022

Parents of New York School Children Want More Support for their Kids and Families

A survey of parents with kids in Monroe Country, New York revealed concerns that schools aren't providing adequate social, emotional or academic support.

Artistic Creations by Young Women in Upstate NY Detention Facilities Now on Display

9/23/2022

Upstate NY Gallery Displays Artwork by Young Women and Trans Artists in Detention

An art exhibit in Catskill, New York shows work by three teens incarcerated at Brookwood Secure Center for Youth.

Judge Brenda Freedman

9/15/2022

A Frank Conversation with a Judge on the Juvenile Justice Bench in New York

Serving Erie County, New York in the Youth Part and Family Court, Judge Brenda Freedman discusses her career path and changes to the juvenile justice system.

Unleash the Brilliance, a Washington-based nonprofit that is a diversion program in King County.

9/1/2022

Youth Advocates Push “Diversion” to Reduce Racial Disparities in Juvenile Court

A new study found that nationwide, there's an "unequal and limited use of diversion" efforts to keep kids out of the criminal justice system.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards

8/30/2022

Lawsuit Pauses Transfer of Louisiana Youth to the Notorious Angola Adult Prison

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards plans to temporarily move incarcerated youth from juvenile detention facilities to a state prison for adults. Photo via Edwards’ website.
Young people and juvenile justice advocates rallied in front of state offices in Louisiana’s capital city today, protesting plans to transfer detained youth to the notorious Angola state prison for adults.

New York County Leaders Say Detention Beds are Lacking for 16- and 17-year-olds Accused of Serious Crimes

8/24/2022

New York County Leaders Say Detention Beds are Lacking for 16- and 17-year-olds Accused of Serious Crimes

New York county leaders say there are too few secure detention facilities for teens awaiting trial, but greater capacity could be years away.

Researchers Call Out Lackluster Education in Juvenile Justice System

7/19/2022

Researchers Call Out Lackluster Education in Juvenile Justice System

All children are entitled to an education in the U.S., but a recent study shows how that promise often falls short when kids are locked up. 

New York’s Top Judge Resigns

7/13/2022

New York’s Top Judge Resigns

Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, who presides over New York's courts, announced her resignation early this week.

On Buffalo Streets, Outreach Workers Push for Freedom from Violence

6/30/2022

On Buffalo Streets, Outreach Workers Push for Freedom from Violence

The nonprofit SNUG helps prevent community violence and promote healing by working directly with young people.

Rochester Child Psychiatrist Works with Community Groups to Heal Patients After They Leave the Hospital

5/26/2022

Rochester Child Psychiatrist Works with Community Groups to Heal Young Patients Wounded by Violence

In Rochester, child psychiatrist Michael Scharf is part of a team addressing the trauma of youth violence, and how to prevent it.

Widespread Condemnation of 8-year-old Boy’s Treatment by Syracuse Police Continues

4/26/2022

Widespread Condemnation of 8-year-old Boy’s Treatment by Syracuse Police Continues

In New York, activist groups, residents and Gov. Kathy Hochul reacted last week to a video of Syracuse police detaining an 8-year-old boy.

New York Governor Rejects Legislature’s Proposals to Boost Child Welfare Funding

4/14/2022

New York Governor Rejects Legislature’s Proposals to Boost Child Welfare Funding

The recently passed New York state budget did not include funding increases for foster care prevention or Family Court attorneys.

Finally, More Judges Headed to ‘Desperately Overstretched’ New York Family Courts

3/10/2022

Raising The Age of Criminal Prosecution: How Does it Serve Youth and The Public?

The purpose of the Raise the Age law was to ensure that more youth would benefit from the Family Court’s rehabilitative focus and sealed records policies.

New York Sees Pushback Against Raise the Age Laws

3/8/2022

Calls to Roll Back Raise the Age Laws Reach NY Statehouse, But Find Little Traction

Amid an uptick in crime in recent years, some New York lawmakers are calling to roll back Raise the Age laws that keep teens out of adult prisons.

New York City Mayor’s Plan to Address Gun Violence Would Roll Back Juvenile Justice Reforms, Critics Say

1/28/2022

New York City Mayor’s Plan to Address Gun Violence Would Roll Back Juvenile Justice Reforms, Critics Say

One aspect of New York City Mayor Eric Adams' plan to end gun violence would roll back recent juvenile justice reforms, critics say.

New York Governor Signs Legislation Barring Arrest of Children Younger than 12

1/4/2022

New York Governor Signs Legislation Barring Arrest of Children Younger than 12

Legislation signed into law by New York’s governor will bar the arrest of most children younger than 12 years old, a move pushed for years by advocates decrying the state’s overly punitive justice system.

New York City School Relies on Restorative Justice

12/29/2021

A New York School Relies on Restorative Justice for Campus Disputes — and Children’s Futures

Through restorative justice circles, New York's Randolph Academy wants to help kids find a better way forward.

A Teen Remains At Large After Five Flee a Washington Youth Prison

11/10/2021

Rochester School District Stations Police Outside Schools

School officials in Rochester, New York voted on Tuesday to station police officers outside the city’s 11 high schools when students arrive and leave their campuses each day.

As Student Struggle in Rochester, New York, Schools Consider Bringing Back Campus Police

11/8/2021

As Students Struggle in Rochester, New York, Schools Consider Bringing Back Campus Police

Police and private security have recently been posted outside Rochester City School District schools — an arrangement that could be extended pending a decision by school commissioners.