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Kathy Hochul, Governor
Sheila J. Poole, Commissioner
August 2022 — Vol. 7, No. 8
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Commissioner's Message

As the 2022 Great New York State Fair approaches, I would like to offer a special thank you to the OCFS staff who volunteer to work behind our table greeting our fellow New Yorkers and sharing information about our agency’s services.

While hundreds of thousands of fair visitors come for the fair’s food, recreation and entertainment, many of them talk with us about state services and job opportunities, and OCFS is always excited to promote our work.

From our booth in the Science and Industry Building, we welcome the opportunity to share information about child abuse prevention, foster care, adoption, child care assistance, adult protective services and contributing to the safety, permanency and well-being of New York’s families. Visitors will also see our agency’s safe sleep videos, which have appeared on social media and throughout the state, and support New York State's infant safe sleep initiative.

OCFS makes a profound difference in New Yorkers’ lives when we find adoptive and foster parents, assist with new child care programs, point youth toward a productive and stable life, protect vulnerable and older adults, and assist blind New Yorkers in achieving independence and finding employment.

I hope you have an opportunity to get to the fair and enjoy some rest and relaxation during the last month of summer before school starts—you deserve it!

And don’t miss our annual International Day celebration on August 30 when we celebrate the diverse cultures represented by OCFS employees and the people we serve. Something tells me there will be terrific food and performances. Watch your email for more information.

I am truly grateful for all you do to fulfill our mission of promoting the safety and well-being of children and families. Thank you!

Sincerely,
Sheila J. Poole
Commissioner

Articles

Updates from the Division of Child Care Services (DCCS)

$70 Million in Child Care Grants Awarded to New Child Care Providers

New York and OCFS continue to support all different forms of child care programs.

Most recently, Governor Kathy Hochul announced that nearly $70 million in grant funding has been awarded to newly licensed, registered or permitted child care programs in areas of the state without sufficient child care slots, known as child care deserts.

OCFS Commissioner Sheila J. Poole and former Division of Child Care Services Deputy Commissioner Janice Molnar attended the event in New York City. The Governor offered a special shout out to Janice, who recently retired after leading the division for 15 years.

The funds, which are part of the $100 million child care desert initiative approved in the Fiscal Year 2022 Enacted Budget, were made available through the federal American Rescue Plan Act and are administered by OCFS. The grants will help new child care providers in underserved areas build their programs, cover start-up and personnel costs, recruit, train and retain staff, and support staff in accessing COVID-19 vaccines.

The Governor also highlighted legislation that will help make diapers more affordable by exempting adult and children's diapers, including disposable diapers, from all sales and use taxes.

Updates from the Commission for the Blind (NYSCB)

Commission for the Blind Recognizes Partners on National Nonprofit Day

Partner organizations play a critical role in meeting the goals of the New York State Commission for the Blind (NYSCB), and August 15 -- National Nonprofit Day -- is the perfect opportunity to say “thank you” by highlighting their work.

Among the many community organizations collaborating with NYSCB, the Suffolk Independent Living Organization (SILO) is an example of the kind of important tasks partners undertake.

SILO is in Garden City and assists individuals with disabilities, including blindness, achieve independence. A long-standing partner with NYSCB, SILO provides counseling and education on available benefits, including Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, food stamps (SNAP) and temporary assistance.

In addition to providing benefits advisement, SILO has played an integral role in advocacy for the blind, addressing housing discrimination, transportation and accessibility issues, voting rights and working with employers to provide reasonable accommodations compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. SILO further demonstrates its commitment by employing people with disabilities, including six staff members who are blind.

Updates from the Division of Child Welfare and Community Services (CWCS)

Marie Limbach Named Director of Domestic Violence Bureau

OCFS staff Marie Limbach, a 20-year veteran, has been named the new director of the Bureau of Domestic Violence Prevention and Victim Support.

“As I look back to where I started to where I am now, I can point to specific experiences in my previous positions that really helped me move forward,” said Marie.

Before her current assignment, she spent eight years in the Bureau as the supervisor responsible for coordinating monitoring, oversight and licensing of domestic violence programs, and she has deep knowledge of the issues facing survivors of domestic violence. Marie also has experience working in two regional offices – Yonkers Regional Office (now Westchester) as a child care licensor and Albany Regional Office as a voluntary agency/county/domestic violence lead.

Marie considers Woodstock, New York, her hometown. “Woodstock has always been alternative. There’s a very interesting diversity in the area born out of Woodstock as an artist colony and the impact of the 60s’ counter culture. It’s very open to other cultures and experiences.”

Marie’s family has had strong ties to community service organizations. “My parents instilled in me a strong sense of giving back to the community, which is why I gravitated to a career in human services.”

As a self-proclaimed nerd, Marie is very proud of her youngest nephew who can debate the virtues of Star Wars vs. Star Trek. “I’ve got to admit, he got me with Star Wars is cooler because they have light sabers.”

In her spare time, you may find Marie traveling to support her local soccer team, rooting for the Buffalo Bills, attending comic cons, walking around Albany or testing her wits in a game of trivia.

Under Marie’s leadership, the Bureau will continue to provide programming and services to all survivors, and the implementation of the Safe and Together Model training to all local districts.

Congratulations, Marie!

Updates from the Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA)

Americans With Disability Act Reminds Us That Diversity Work Does Not End With Just What We Can See

The office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (ODEIA), in conjunction with the Commission for the Blind, partnered with Independent Living Center of Hudson Valley (ILCHV) to recognize the 32nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in July.

The landmark legislation is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation and all public and private places that are open to the public.

“The ODEIA’s ongoing partnership with the ILCHV is a specific reminder that the intersectionality of diversity work does not end at what we can see, but also encompasses the physical, mental, cognitive, health and other factors we do not always see,” said Precious Riehl, DEIA program manager. “Please visit OCFS’ social media pages to view our campaign on the ADA and disabilities.”

This year we will be launching an additional initiative to help celebrate the ADA throughout the year: the development of a disability advocacy rights group that will sit under the DEIAS’s newly formed Talent Acquisition and Employee Engagement (TAEE) Subcommittee. For more information on participating, please contact the DEIA office or email Rosalynn Duvall, co-chair of the Subcommittee.

Updates from the Division of Juvenile Justice and Opportunities for Youth (DJJOY)

Brookwood Secure Center Residents Celebrate Educational Goals

Brookwood Secure Center for Youth continues to strive to celebrate achievement for all residents. And what better way to do that than to hold a graduation ceremony for residents who met educational goals?

During a three-week period, educational and youth support teams led by Education Director Rolf Waters and Education Coordinator Jason Courrege worked to bring about the pomp and circumstance.

In all, 20 residents were able to walk across the stage to receive high school equivalency diplomas. Residents’ families, unit staff and unit residents attended the ceremonies and stayed on hand to celebrate with food (prepared by culinary program staff and the youth themselves) and family gatherings.

In additional news at Brookwood, wing 6 residents dressed to impress while being taught proper etiquette for a formal dining experience. Youth Counselor Daneene Johnson and Dr. Lindsay Morelle led the continuing effort to provide tools necessary for youth to transition successfully to their communities.

Updates from the Division of Youth Development and Partnerships for Success (YDAPS)

First-of-its-Kind Detention Education Summit a Success
summit discussion
OCFS and State Education Department staff and local detention facility and education staff discuss a scenario during OCFS’ first-ever summit on detention education.

OCFS’ Division of Youth Development and Partnerships for Success hosted its inaugural Detention Education Summit July 21-22, in Troy, New York.

The 2022 Detention Summit brought together all of OCFS’ detention facility administrators and education leaders. Over the two days, David Domenici of BreakFree Education led the group to reimagine and rethink education in detention.

Attendees walked away with information about using data to identify educational interventions and strategies to support positive change. They worked to develop a shared vision for success and a communication plan to convey that vision to all stakeholders.

New Youth Justice Peer Advisory Council Gathers in Albany and Offers Lived Experience

Authentic youth engagement is a critical part of mapping pathways to equity in the youth justice system.

Eight young people between ages 18-25 – all with their own experience of homelessness or contact with the justice system – gathered for the first time in July to form the inaugural New York State Youth Justice Peer Advisory Council (YJPAC).

youth justice event
Youth Justice Peer Advisory Committee members

Developed by the New York State Youth Justice Institute at OCFS’ request, council members will serve as key advisors on youth justice policy and practice. Rolling applications for the council started in March and attracted applicants from around the state.

The initial group of young adults began training in June, with an in-person convening in July at SUNY Albany. YJPAC members met with policy leaders from OCFS, the state Division of Criminal Justice Services, the Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children and community leaders working on behalf of system-impacted youth.

The YJPAC will be tasked with providing input on policy and practice across the span of New York’s youth justice and youth homelessness system. The young adults are paid an hourly wage and will provide their expertise and viewpoints to state and local stakeholders.

Optimally the YJPAC will be engaged as early as possible by the stakeholders before policy or practice formulation to ensure that lived experience voice is deeply embedded in the work. YJPAC is the third and newest vehicle for youth engagement and voice that OCFS has spearheaded, following the Foster Care Youth Advisory Board and the Governor’s Youth Council.

In further news of youth empowerment, the OCFS Youth Advisory Board (YAB) hosted its first virtual youth event for Foster Care Awareness Month. YAB members met with staff, caregivers, caseworkers and young people who took the opportunity to share the impact of isolation and disconnection brought about by the pandemic. Youth participants learned about the role of an attorney for the child, the bill of rights for foster care and trauma-informed self-care.

If you and your team have any youth-focused work and would like input from the young persons’ perspective, please email ocfs.sm.yab@ocfs.ny.gov.

Updates from the Council on Children and Families (CCF)

Free Fatherhood Events to Support Parenting

The Council on Children and Families (CCF) is spreading the word about three upcoming summer events for fathers, part of the New York State Fatherhood Coordination Initiative.

“We want fathers to be the best they can be, and these get-togethers will give them even more options and ideas on how to help their children grow,” said Elana Marton, acting executive director of CCF. “This investment allows New York State to make families even stronger than they’ve ever been.”

Through its Preschool Development Birth through Five Grant (NYSB5) from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families, CCF launched the New York State Fatherhood Coordination Initiative last year. It has identified community action programs in the state’s economic development regions, including Allegany County Community Opportunities and Rural Development (ACCORD); Wyoming County Community Action, Inc (WCCA); Pro Action of Steuben and Yates; PEACE, Inc.; Mohawk Valley Community Action Agency; St. Lawrence County Community Development Program; Albany Community Action Partnership (ACAP); Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD); Westchester Community Opportunity Program (WESTCOP); and the Economic Opportunity Council of Suffolk to act as champions to bring local agencies together to develop a unified voice for fathers.

Upcoming events

  • August 7, 2022: 2nd Annual “The Makings of a Man Conference! A Conference Just For Men”
    The Renaissance Hotel, Albany, 3-7:30 p.m.
    Registration: admin@mkrobinsoninternational.com
  • October 2022: NYS Fatherhood Coordination Initiative Convening
    Convenes regional stakeholders to discuss how to engage local and state systems to create a statewide fatherhood network.
    For more information contact: Jocelyn Basley at jrbasley@c3consultancy.org
    Registration: TBA
  • November 2022: Westchester Fathering Conference
    Registration: TBA

Hope to See You at the State Fair!

The Great New York State Fair is back this month, running 13 days from August 24 to September 5. Food, exhibits, entertainment and a lot more are just the start. You’ll also find an OCFS booth staffed by your co-workers!

As we count down the days until the event in Central New York, new attractions and concerts at the Syracuse fairgrounds are added almost daily. The event will allow visitors from across the state and the country to enjoy the fair’s collection of top-notch attractions and entertainment all in one place.

Admission is $3 per person. Children younger than 12 and those 65 and older get in free. Parking is just $5 per vehicle.

Make sure you check out the recruitment flyer at our booth that details open OCFS positions and includes contact information.

Hope to see you there!