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Kathy Hochul, Governor
Dr. DaMia Harris-Madden, Commissioner
October 2023 — Vol. 8, No. 10

October Commissioner's Message

Dear Colleagues,

I can’t imagine living in New York State and not loving Fall! The start of October probably has many of you thinking about pumpkins, spiced lattes, apple cider donuts and Halloween candy. I know my family is looking forward to going trick-or-treating!

At OCFS, this time is also a reminder that our mission to uplift our fellow New Yorkers includes providing concrete supports and access to resources so our children, families and communities can be empowered, and that simple joys and pleasures like seasonal traditions can truly be enjoyed by all. This requires our services to be equitable and inclusive, and we can only achieve this through collaboration and innovation.

Several key observances and events this month – including Indigenous Peoples Day on October 9 and our Hispanic Heritage Month celebration – call attention to our vital mission of supporting children, families and communities. We will also acknowledge Domestic Violence Awareness Month, White Cane Day and National Coming Out Day. These will all ring hollow unless we are devoting our time, energy and resources to confronting systemic inequities – a system OCFS has sadly been a part of.

While Indigenous Peoples Day is part of a much-anticipated three-day weekend, I hope you’ll take some time to meaningfully reflect on the atrocities carried out against Native Americans, the concerted effort to eradicate their culture and way of life, and the remaining barriers to their true equality. I’m encouraged by the tireless advocacy of our Native American Services bureau that continues to fight on their behalf. We saw a major victory this year with the Supreme Court upholding the Indian Child Welfare Act, part of the momentum we need to continue.

We can’t forget that we are in the middle of Hispanic Heritage Month, which started on September 15 and runs through October 15, and recognizes the incredible contributions of Americans who trace their roots back to Spain, Mexico, Central America, South America and Spanish-speaking nations in the Caribbean. I hope you’ll join us for our agency-wide celebration on October 10!

Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado expressed his desire to learn more about our youth enrichment programs when he visited our Human Services Training Center over the summer. Late last month, he followed through by touring our Brentwood Residential Center to see firsthand the lasting, positive changes we are bringing to the lives of vulnerable youth, who might not otherwise have access to an education and other vital services. He plans to return for a graduation ceremony at one of our facilities, and I know our youth will be excited to celebrate with him.

I’m so proud of our entire staff, who demonstrate an unrivaled commitment to help transform OCFS into an agency that is part of the solution and a leading force for ending centuries of oppression inflicted on historically marginalized communities. Thank you for all that you do to bring this vision into focus.

With gratitude,

Suzanne Miles-Gustave, Esq.
Acting Commissioner


This Month's News

Download the October 2023 Newsletter

  • Lt. Governor Antonio Delgado Visits Brentwood Residential Center
  • Child Welfare Worker Appreciation Week Celebrates Critical Work for Children and Families
  • Acting Commissioner Miles-Gustave Named as “Power Player Rising” by PoliticsNY
  • OCFS Employees Donate School Supplies to Schenectady Elementary School
  • New Associate Commissioner Named for Bureau of Strategic Systems Innovation
  • Child Care and Early Education Workforce Campaign Aims to “Ignite Their Potential”
  • Healthy Families New York Program in Brooklyn Serves as Model for Singapore Hospital
  • Agency’s First Ever SOGIE Officer Appointed to Advance Diversity
  • DJJOY Students Experience the Equestrian Life
  • White Cane Awareness Day Highlights Traffic Safety for People With Visual Impairments
  • YDAPS Presents at National Human Trafficking Prevention Summit
  • Latina Mentoring Initiative Participants Receive College Scholarships
  • AmeriCorps Celebrates 30 Years of Voluntary Service to America