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For immediate release: May 18, 2023
Contact: press@ocfs.ny.gov
Email: press@ocfs.ny.gov
Phone: 5184023130

New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) Announces Launch of New Family Opportunity Centers

Initial $12 million in state and federal grants fund new initiative designed to protect children and strengthen families
 
 
The New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) today announced the launch of eight family opportunity centers (FOCs) across New York State. The centers are aimed at improving the safety and well-being of children and families by addressing issues of poverty, education barriers, substance use disorders and lack of adequate physical and mental health care.
 
“We know that when families do better, children do better,” said OCFS Acting Commissioner Suzanne Miles-Gustave. “FOCs offer a welcoming, child- and family-centered program that provide a broad range of supportive services. By offering community-based, culturally responsive resources, we are giving families the tools necessary to stay together and thrive.”
 
Miles-Gustave made the announcement at St. Catherine’s Center for Children in Albany, New York, which is one of the first of eight FOCs to open. Another four are expected to receive approval in the coming months.
 
The centers, launched through a collaboration between OCFS and the New York State Education Department (NYSED), are being funded by an initial $12 million in grants made available through state funds and the federal Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention program where supplemental funding was provided under the American Rescue Plan. Both community-based and school-based programs are eligible for the grants. Both community-based and school-based programs are eligible for the grants.
 
“Keeping children safe is just one component of ensuring their permanency and proper development. By working alongside the State Education Department, these programs don’t just meet the immediate needs of families. They also set children on a path for academic success, which will help lead to greater personal, emotional and professional stability in the future,” said Miles-Gustave.
 
FOCs are an extension of the family resource initiative that the State has already implemented. They are one of several data-driven prevention strategies designed to reduce the risk of child abuse and maltreatment and improve scholastic outcomes for students.
 
“The program is one of many ‘upstream’ prevention service models that New York State is utilizing to strengthen families and thus reduce the need for more costly intervention services down the road resulting from abuse and maltreatment,” added Lisa Ghartey Ogundimu, OCFS Deputy Commissioner of the Division of Child Welfare and Community Services. “Families can receive valuable supports through accessible, convenient locations.”
 
Contracts were recently approved for family opportunity centers operated by the following entities:
  • St. Catherine’s Center for Children (Albany County)
  • EPIC - Every Person Influences Children (serving Cattaraugus and Niagara counties)
  • Rockland BOCES (Rockland County)
  • Children’s Home of Poughkeepsie NY, Inc. (Dutchess County)
  • North Country Prenatal/Perinatal Council, Inc. (Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties)
  • Hillside Children’s Center (Monroe and Onondaga counties)
  • Watervliet City School District (Albany County)
  •  Delaware Opportunities (Delaware County)
Additional contracts, with funding from NYSED, will be awarded in a second round of grants that specifically assist underinvested school districts.
 
New York State Education Commissioner Betty A. Rosa said, “When students are supported and able to focus on school and their educational pursuits, they are better positioned to obtain skills and knowledge for college, careers, and civic engagement. We are excited to be a part of this promising Family Opportunity Centers Program and the tailored services it will provide for the young people of New York State. By leveraging the collective knowledge of our Department and the experts at the Office of Children and Family Services, we have been able to create a collaborative model of care and support while building a supportive ecosystem that promotes social-emotional competency and overall well-being for the students of our state.”
 
St. Catherine’s Center for Children Executive Director Frank Pindiak said, "St. Catherine’s is truly grateful for this partnership with the State and the Office for Children and Family Services,” said Frank Pindiak, Executive Director of St. Catherine’s Center for Children. “The grant we have received to open our Connections to Care Family Opportunity Center will allow us to aid children and families in their own neighborhoods. The success of children is tied directly to the well-being of their family. By providing resources to the family, we will help lay the path to a better future for local children. Without the State’s support, and that of several generous donors, this new program would not have gotten off the ground.”
 
 
About the New York State Office of Children and Family Services:
 
The Office of Children and Family Services serves New York's public by promoting the safety, permanency and well-being of children, families and communities. The agency provides a system of family support, juvenile justice, youth development, child care and child welfare services and is responsible for programs and services involving foster care, adoption and adoption assistance, child protective services, preventive services for children and families, and protective programs for vulnerable adults.
 

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