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For immediate release: May 26, 2022
Contact: press@ocfs.ny.gov
Email: jeannine.smith@ocfs.ny.gov
Phone: 5184023130

THE NEW YORK STATE OFFICE OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES ANNOUNCES LAUNCH OF MOBILE RESPONSE UNITS TO STRENGTHEN CHILDREN AND FAMILIES AT RISK OF ENTERING CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM

 Reimagined Mobile Units Bring Services and Resources to Families as Part of the Family First Prevention Services Act

 
The New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) today announced the delivery of four new mobile response units to bring services and resources to strengthen and support families as part of the expansion of primary prevention work in New York in response to theFamily First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA).
 
“The time is long overdue for our child protection system to move from a reactive approach where supports and services are offered to families only after they’ve had contact with the system to new approaches that encourage parents to seek help and receive assistance when they need it,” said OCFS Commissioner Sheila J. Poole. “In addition, many families live in rural communities and are challenged with transportation to access support. We’re hopeful that families will benefit from this approach in collaboration with many community partners.”
 
The mobile response unit strategy helps develop and operate coordinated programs of community-based family support and family preservation services to reduce child maltreatment, address children’s safety and preserve the integrity of the family unit when the family’s needs can be safely and effectively addressed in the home.
 
The mobileresponse units are now in four counties around the state: Albany, Monroe, Onondaga and Westchester. The specially designed units were procured through funding provided by the state Office of Victim Services, and OCFS covers the operational costs for the counties with FFPSA funding. They will be staffed by a licensed clinician, a behavioral health specialist, a family peer advocate and/or a domestic violence advocate.
 
Each county with a mobile response unit also has protocols for using their services. Staff will work with the parent or caregiver and child to reduce or de-escalate identified behaviors and may provide intervention services to address any immediate concerns and ongoing needs.
 
“Each of the respective teams has been diligently working at identifying the services that best meet the needs of the children and families in their counties,” said Lisa Ghartey Ogundimu, OCFS’ deputy commissioner of the Division of Child Welfare and Community Services. “We hope that by providing immediate crisis response supports to parents and caregivers, it will empower their ability to support the children in their home and mitigate disruptions, which further supports the family healing process.”
 
OCFS hopes to expand the program to additional counties in the future.
 
Assemblymember Pat Fahy said, “Research has shown that early intervention and outreach in childhood can help to reduce adverse childhood experiences and lead to better long-term outcomes. Bringing these mental health and other resources directly into our communities helps to bridge gaps in communication and outreach with residents and families in need. I applaud the New York State Office of Children and Family Services for their work on this project and look forward to seeing its results and impact in Albany and our communities.”
 
Assemblymember John T. McDonald III, RPh said, "The Office of Children and Family Services mobile response vehicles are an innovative and thoughtful approach toward meeting people where they are at when it comes to providing much-needed resources to children and families. Thank you to OCFS for launching this program and to our federal partners for providing the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) funding that made this pilot program possible."
 
Trinity Alliance of the Capital Region CEO Harris Oberlander said, “We know that everyday stressors on families, children and youth have exploded with COVID. With this new RV capacity, Trinity Alliance will expand our geographic reach and literally meet families where they are. When families need a helping hand when crises arise, when children and youth are temporarily removed from their home due to parenting and communication challenges, and when foster and kinship families need support, our caring staff members will be there to de-escalate and work for safety and solutions. The RV staff can provide healing pathways from past trauma, family conflict and stress. They can also help people with housing and food security challenges, gaining health insurance and connecting to health and pharmacy care.”
 
Office of Victim Services Director Elizabeth Cronin said, “The Office of Victim Services is always exploring ways to expand our reach and ensure that victims of crime and their families can access services wherever and whenever they need them. We are proud to partner with the Office of Children and Family Services to support their critical work to assist children and families in need.”
 
Westchester Department of Social Services Commissioner Leonard G. Townes said,“We are honored and appreciative of this opportunity to partner with the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, family peer advocates and local community providers on the delivery of mobile response services to the children, youth and families of Westchester. These services allow the Department to reach these families in their home communities and provide essential supports to promote safety, permanency and well-being.”
 
Monroe Department of Social Services Commissioner Thalia Wright and the county Child and Family Services team said, “Monroe County is excited to have this mobile resource, and we are grateful to our partners at OCFS for this new and unique tool to strengthen and support Monroe County’s commitment to prevention by providing an immediate behavioral health response to families and children and to support placement stability. This mobile unit will also be utilized as an educational hub to provide behavioral and parenting resources to equip caregivers with the knowledge and understanding to more confidently and successfully manage difficult behaviors in the home.”
Albany County Department for Children, Youth and Families Commissioner Moira Manning said, “We are very excited about launching the mobile response team in Albany County. As they say, it takes a village to raise a child, and with this partnership of State, county and community organizations we, TOGETHER, can strengthen and support families in their own communities.”
 
 
 
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