As Deputy Commissioner of FPS, Ms. Stephens plays an integral role in the development and implementation of foster care services in New York City. She is responsible for the daily operations of several divisions in Family Permanency Services which include the Office of Shared Response, Family Permanency Team Conferencing, Parent Support and Recruitment, Resource Development and Support, Youth Advisory, Residential Care Support Services, Housing Subsidy and Support Services, Adoption Subsidy, Inter-jurisdictional Placements and Centralized Foster Care Operations.
Ms. Stephens possesses over 19 years of progressive social service management and clinical experience. She has been an innovative leader in child welfare reform that has successful attributed to permanency for over 35,000 adoptive children. Through her leadership ACS successfully implemented the Improved Outcomes for Children initiative for child welfare services which includes the family team conferencing model in foster and residential care, as well as the delegation of case management to contracted foster care provider agencies. Ms. Stephens has also successfully initiated the coordination of services for youth transitioning out of foster care. Ms. Stephens is a proactive leader with analytical, interpersonal and community organizing skills, and has proven herself as a consummate team player who has participated in a variety of cross-divisional and cross system workgroups.
Ms Stephens is responsible for over 16,000 children in the custody of ACS, 350 public service employees and a budget of over $550 million. Her experience in building systems that promote positive outcomes for children are the result of her direct casework experience with clients and through her subsequent tenure as program director in adoption services and Assistant Commissioner of the Office of Permanency and Placement Support Services.
Ms. Stephens has made significant contributions to the Division of Family Permanency first serving as the division’s Acting Deputy Commissioner since June 2007, and as the Deputy Commissioner since February 2008, Ms. Stephens has led the work in FPS to put into practice the vision of permanency for every child whose life is touched by Children’s Services. Ms. Stephens’ vision embodies the core values of Improved Outcomes for Children: that families have strengths and can change; that families, extended families and communities can be engaged to resolve issues, and that strengths are what ultimately resolve issues of concern.
Ms. Stephens has also served in social service roles at New York Catholic Guardian Society and the New York State Department of Social Services. She holds an MSW degree from Fordham University and a BA from the State University of New York at Binghamton, as well as post-graduation certification in Administration from Hunter College. Ms. Stephens has also completed an Executive Education course at Harvard University.