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Kathy Hochul, Governor
Suzanne Miles-Gustave, Esq., Acting Commissioner
April 2023 — Vol. 8, No. 4

Commissioner's Message

Dear Colleagues,

Every April here at OCFS – and this year, it’s today – we host our annual pinwheel planting during Child Abuse Prevention Month, recognizing one of the most important missions of the agency – the protection of children’s health and well-being.

Pinwheels are a symbol of a childhood free from fear and trauma. But the goals of Child Abuse Prevention Month go far beyond that. All children deserve to grow and develop in nurturing and uplifting environments, no matter the circumstances. This is one of the biggest reasons I’m so honored to lead this agency. Whether it be at home with their parents, in a foster care or adoption placement, being cared for in a child care program or for youth who come to us by way of their interaction with court systems, I know each office and division fights hard and strong to keep our kids safe, knowing they are the most precious, yet vulnerable, members of our communities.

Our new mandated reporter training is going to take this even further. The training encourages those mandated reporters directly interacting with the family to connect them with community-based resources. The training also helps mandated reporters recognize and confront their own biases so their immediate reaction isn’t to call the Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment. Families in need of support will now be more likely to receive the resources necessary to create the life they want for their children without the fear of a CPS investigation.

Unfortunately, we know that despite everything we do, some children need even more assistance when someone decides to break the bond of trust young people place in their caregivers. It’s why I’d also like to recognize our passionate, caring and dedicated staff at the Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment. You answer the call each and every day, literally, using not only incredibly strong judgment, but compassion too, knowing a life could very well be in your hands. You are on the front lines of the battle we are bringing awareness to this month, and there is no question that children and families across the state are safer for what you do, even if they’re not able to tell you directly.

So, on behalf of the entire agency and all New Yorkers, I’ll say it – you do the work most people simply can’t. You not only have a truly unique skillset, but an unwavering commitment to help others that can’t be taught. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!

As we plant pinwheels – and for the first time have stocked our statewide offices with them so everyone can participate in the planting – we will also wear blue to bring visibility to this effort, but also know that this month is a reminder of everything OCFS stands for. Not only am I proud of all our staff, but you should be proud of yourselves too!

With Gratitude,

Suzanne Miles-Gustave, Esq.
Acting Commissioner


This Month's News

Download the April 2023 Newsletter

  • Governor Hochul Launches Statewide Listening Tour on Youth Mental Health
  • New York’s Child Care Availability Task Force Relaunched to Make Child Care More Affordable, Accessible and Equitable
  • New Online Screening Tool to Facilitate Child Care Financial Assistance
  • National Child Abuse Prevention Month = Family Strengthening and Support Month
  • DEIA Office Celebrates Women’s History Month by Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories
  • “Painted Ladies” Flutter Around Brentwood Residential Center as Students Raise Butterflies
  • NYSCB Offers Mobility Training To Clients Seeking Guide Dogs
  • Prevention Efforts and Support for Survivors Mark Sexual Assault Awareness Month