Hard-to-Place / Hard-to-Serve Unit

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the role of the Council on Children and Families in securing services for hard-to-place and hard-to-serve children?

The Council receives individual hard to place and hard to serve case referrals for resolution. The primary objectives in resolving these cases are to ensure that individual children receive the most appropriate community-based or residential services at the least restrictive level, and to resolve interagency service disputes.

The Council receives referrals for resolution from a variety of sources, including parents, children’s advocates, county Departments of Social Services, Committees on Special Education, county Probation Departments, state agencies, the Governor’s Office, and Senate and Assembly staff, and moves swiftly to resolve each case.

In addition to the resolution of specific case disputes, Council staff:

  • work closely with agencies on system reforms to improve service delivery;
  • monitor the frequency and severity of cases referred for resolution to determine policy or program implications requiring interagency state-level intervention;
  • track the reliance and utilization of in-state and out-of-state residential placements by localities and school districts in New York State; and
  • maintain a database system on hard-to-place/hard-to-serve referrals.

Who is considered a hard-to-place or hard-to-serve child?

A hard-to-place child is a child under the age of 21 with one or more physical, mental, emotional or social disabilities, who has not received appropriate residential services after reasonable and diligent efforts have been taken to locate such services. A hard-to-serve child is a child under the age of 21 with one or more physical, mental, emotional or social disabilities who is able, with assistance of services from multiple service providers, to remain in his or her own home or other community setting, but whose family has been unable to secure needed services.

How does the Council on Children and Families become involved?

The Council’s Interagency Coordination and Case Resolution Bureau will become involved in a referral only after available program options and dispute resolution procedures have been exhausted at the local and regional levels.

If there is no hard-to-place/hard-to-serve committee or network within a county, referrals of hard to place or hard to serve cases can be made directly to the Council.

How is a referral submitted to the Council?

The agent making a referral on behalf of a child must provide the Council with a description of the barriers encountered in attempting to provide appropriate services or placement, a record of the efforts that have been made by the referral source or others to secure services and/or placements for the child, as well as background information on the child's special needs.

A referral containing all of the information mentioned above may be submitted to:

Kathleen Rivers, Assistant Coordinator
Hard-to-Place/Hard-to-Serve Unit
NYS Council on Children and Families
52 Washington Street. West Building, Suite 99
Rensselaer, NY 12144

Telephone: 518-473-3652
Fax: 518-473-2570
e-mail: kathleen.rivers@ccf.ny.gov