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Kathy Hochul, Governor
Suzanne Miles-Gustave, Esq., Acting Commissioner
March 2023 — Vol. 8, No. 3

Commissioner's Message

The promise of brighter (and warmer) days ahead reminds us of where we are as an agency and where we are heading for the rest of 2023. As described in my executive budget proposal testimony and following the unveiling of our new mandated reporter training, OCFS is actively providing even stronger supports to communities that desperately need them. This can only be accomplished through the hard work of all our staff, who are the foundation of the State’s push to improve access to child care, protect our children, point families in the direction of critical resources and enrich all youth who come into our care.

I’m also extremely proud of the work that’s being done within OCFS to enable our workforce to confront the systemic racism built into our society that threatens the equitable delivery of these services. The monthlong series of Black History Month events coordinated by our Buffalo Regional Office and the Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility in February was by far the best I’ve seen in my nine years at OCFS. The tenacity shown by our colleagues to drive difficult conversations about race and injustice push us to examine how we can do better in our anti-racist and anti-oppression approach to human services.

And who can forget the DJJOY art installation depicting Black joy at the Empire State Plaza crafted by our incredible youth and supported by dedicated, imaginative staff. I visited the exhibit, and while I was in awe of everyone’s creativity, I wasn’t at all surprised. Simply amazing!

This month continues with thought-provoking initiatives for Social Work Month, Women’s History Month, Transgender Day of Visibility and Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.

We celebrate and are so grateful for our social workers, whose talents and commitment benefit our mission in every corner of the agency with everything from unifying families to providing direct care to youth with treatment services – and even creating legislation and policies.

The 2023 theme for Women’s History Month, “Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories,” recognizes women who have been active in all forms of media and storytelling and who produce art, pursue truth and reflect the human condition to speak truth to power. OCFS is filled with women (and men) who help tell the stories and raise the voices of those we serve to help empower them to overcome barriers.

Transgender Day of Visibility is a day committed to celebrating the resiliency and accomplishments of transgender and non-binary people and raising awareness of the discrimination and violence that trans people face. And we celebrate Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, which raises awareness about the importance of inclusion for children, adolescents and adults with developmental disabilities, and celebrates their unique strengths and vital contributions.

Please always remember that we at OCFS truly make a difference. I look forward to continuing to work with you to improve the lives of our fellow New Yorkers.

Suzanne Miles-Gustave, Esq.
Acting Commissioner


This Month's News

Download the March 2023 Newsletter

  • Acting Commissioner Presents 2023-24 State Budget Proposal
  • Child Care Assistance and Workforce Stabilization Among Topics Presented at New York Public Welfare Association Conference
  • OCFS Launches New Mandated Reporter Training To Address Bias in Child Welfare System
  • New Foster Care/Adoption Software Launched
  • OCFS Celebrates Social Work Appreciation Month
  • Recognizing One of Our Own: CWCS Social Worker Candi Griffin-Jenkins
  • CWCS Launches Initiatives to Hire More Child Welfare Workers
  • Tears, Anger and Hope for the Future Fuel OCFS’s Celebration of Black History Month
  • BHM Panelists Encourage Activism
  • DJJOY Launches Youth Art Installation Focused on Black Joy
  • Goshen Secure Center Student Earns Driver’s Learner Permit
  • Youth Beautify Highland Residential Center with Murals
  • A Success Story: Commission for the Blind Provides Services to Those with Dual Diagnoses of Blindness and Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Youth Sports and Education Opportunity Funding Promotes Positive Youth Development
  • New York State Council on Children and Families Promotes Free Training for Social/Emotional Skills for Infants and Young Children