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Kathy Hochul, Governor
Dr. DaMia Harris-Madden, Acting Commissioner
February 2023 — Vol. 8, No. 2

Commissioner's Message

Happy new year, everyone!

February is Black History Month, a dedicated time to spotlight the lives and historic contributions of Black Americans, Black culture and their indelible impact on all aspects of our society. Black History is American History. That said, it is also a time when many throughout our agency are reminded of feelings of grief, sadness and, in some cases, outright anger over how this history is intertwined with the oppression of generations of Black Americans.

I’m so grateful for the programming being offered this year as many within OCFS continue their own journey of understanding how systemic racism and inequity impact our every day operations. I am hearing and witnessing OCFS staff in every corner of our agency engaging in difficult but necessary conversations and asking themselves to confront their own biases and open their conscience to how they can be part of the solution to end the systemic barriers to true equality and justice. Weekly videos and impact statements are being shared by our colleagues in Buffalo centering on the continued impact of the Tops massacre. To so graciously open up about their deeply personal reflections required great courage, one that demands us to help build a more equitable, understanding and compassionate future.

I’m equally proud of efforts to celebrate Black joy. A Black history cookbook will feature employee recipes, representing their heritage through something that unites us all—food; the Buffalo Regional Office’s presentation of “United We Stand, Divided We Fall,” which will include a panel discussion on redefining activism and Black History trivia; and DJJOY hosting an exhibit at the Empire State Plaza titled “How Beautiful I Am:” Black, Beyond Spectacle, featuring youth artwork and poetry.

OCFS is also set to unveil the State’s new Mandated Reporter Training, a years-long, painstaking effort to build upon these principles, identifying and addressing the systemic bias in the child welfare system that has disproportionately impacted Black and Latinx communities for generations. With this initiative, OCFS aims to limit calls to the SCR based on race and poverty, which have been a scourge across our society.

We can’t forget that many of us are deeply engaged in advancing new policies and initiatives outlined in this year’s Executive Budget proposal that furthers the Governor’s commitment to supporting our agency’s core mission. We are energized by the possibilities and excited to implement transformative initiatives, including those focused on making child care more affordable and accessible for those in need, and continuing to reform our child welfare system to serve and support all children and families equitably and free of bias.

While February is the shortest month of the year, at OCFS the tireless work never stops toward accomplishing our core missions, both internally and across New York. Thank you for your unwavering dedication to what we have done as we look forward to the promise of what’s to come.

With gratitude,

Suzanne Miles-Gustave, Esq.
Acting Commissioner

Articles

This Month's News

Download the February 2023 Newsletter

  • Youth Art Installation Focusing on Black Joy Part of Black History Month Activities
  • OCFS Marks National Day of Racial Healing
  • Governor Hochul Announces Sweeping Plan to Transform New York’s Child Care System
  • CWCS Home Office Staff Trained in Trauma-Informed Practice
  • New Family Policy Advisor Named for Western NY Region
  • CWCS Staffer Receives Founders’ Award for Adoption Work
  • CCF Awarded Preschool Development Birth through Five Planning Grant
  • New Counselor Starts Dream Job at NYSCB
  • February is National Teen Dating Violence and Prevention Awareness Month
  • Cars, Adolescent Boys and BOCES: A Winning Combination at Finger Lakes Residential Center
  • Industry Residential Center Youth Enjoy Gourmet Meals Inspired by Their Hard Work and Agricultural Surroundings
  • Goshen Secure Center Holds SEFA Campaign
  • Wear Blue Day