Office of Children and Family Services

News Article
Monday, April 24, 2017

Child Abuse Prevention Month Observance Reminds All New Yorkers of Their Responsibility to Protect Our Children

OCFS Unveils Ad Campaign for Healthy Families New York Home Visiting Program:
Supporting Families Right From the Start

The New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS), Prevent Child Abuse New York (PCANY) Executive Director Tim Hathaway and Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, along with local elected and social services officials observed Child Abuse Prevention Month in New York State, as proclaimed by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. Children and attendees planted a pinwheel garden in Albany’s Academy Park to mark the occasion. OCFS also unveiled an advertising campaign to raise awareness among expecting and new parents of the Healthy Families New York (HFNY) home visiting program. This evidence-based program connects families across New York State with services and supports in their communities to promote positive outcomes for themselves and their children.

“New York is a leader in child abuse prevention,” said OCFS acting Commissioner Sheila J. Poole. “An important part of prevention is providing families with the support and guidance they need to raise healthy, happy children. Our Healthy Families New York program is successful in helping expecting and new parents who can use some extra support. We hope this campaign attracts more families to the program so they can enjoy the positive outcomes it creates.”

There are 38 HFNY programs, serving more than 6,000 families each year in all five boroughs of New York City and 27 counties statewide. Expecting parents should visit healthyfamiliesnewyork.org to find a program near them.

Local elected officials, social services organizations and voluntary agencies also planted a pinwheel garden to raise awareness of child abuse prevention. The pinwheel garden will remain through the end of the month. The pinwheel is the national symbol of child abuse prevention and a visual reminder that all children deserve a carefree and happy life.

“Communities statewide have pledged to support prevention efforts, with all 62 of New York’s counties signing on for the Pinwheels for Prevention campaign,” said PCANY Executive Director Tim Hathaway. “One simple thing all of us can do to prevent maltreatment is to reduce social isolation, which is a major factor leading to child maltreatment. A kind word, a helping hand, reaching out to an overwhelmed parent to just spend time or give a supportive smile can make a tremendous difference in prevention.”

“The City of Albany is committed to efforts that achieve better outcomes for children,” said Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan. “The Pinwheels for Prevention Campaign shines a light on an important program that serves children and families throughout New York. I’m proud to stand with these state leaders today to remind all that we must protect and nurture all of our children so they can reach their full potential.”

The negative effects of child abuse can last a lifetime. Survivors often experience mental, physical and behavioral health problems, depression, difficulty maintaining healthy relationships and attachments, problems maintaining employment and other issues. Preventing child abuse not only makes a tremendous difference to these individuals, but to our state as a whole.

In New York State, dozens of professions are mandated to report child abuse to the New York Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment, including medical and hospital personnel, school teachers and officials, day care workers and law enforcement, among others. OCFS trains 135,000 child-serving professionals each year to recognize and report abuse.

The New York Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment (SCR), or child abuse hotline (1-800-342-3720), accepts calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Last year, it took more than 300,000 calls that resulted in nearly 200,000 investigations of abuse or maltreatment. The SCR also screens individuals seeking employment in certain fields caring for children and vulnerable adults.

About OCFS
OCFS serves New York by promoting the safety, permanency and well-being of children, families, and communities. OCFS maintains an active social media presence. “Like” the New York State Office of Children and Family Services Facebook page and follow @NYSOCFS on Twitter in English or the Spanish-language Twitter account, @NYSOCFS Espanol.

About PCANY
PCANY is a non-profit organization founded in 1980 as the Federation on Child Abuse and Neglect. Its mission is to prevent child abuse in all its forms so all children may live in families that love, nurture and protect them. Learn more at preventchildabuseny.org. Follow on Twitter @PCA_NY.

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