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Kathy Hochul, Governor
Suzanne Miles-Gustave, Esq., Acting Commissioner
January 2024 — Vol. 9, No. 1

January Commissioner's Message

Dear Colleagues,

Happy new year, everyone! I hope everyone had a chance to enjoy some relaxation and time with family and friends leading into the new year as we gear up for what should be an exciting 2024 ahead.

Before looking ahead, I’d first like to congratulate our Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (ODEIA) on the launch of their Policy Author’s Guide. Tools like this provide a structure for institutionalizing equity principles, especially when it comes to programs for the communities we serve.

In the past, some of our policies have led to disproportionately oppressive outcomes, particularly for BIPOC, underresourced and other marginalized communities. I’m confident this guide will allow us to make significant strides in redressing these impacts. I encourage everyone to check out the Policy Author’s Guide and a related Equity Impact Tracker, as well as an introductory video explaining the basis for the guide, on our website. We can’t wait to hear what you think about it!

While harms may be a part of our history, I’m so proud and inspired by staff throughout the agency for their incredible commitment to our systems transformation, one that will create a brighter future for all New Yorkers. We must collaborate on developing innovative strategies that are grounded in equity to accomplish this.

The upcoming Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday, – which is also recognized as a National Day of Service – calls each of us to be proactive in rooting out racism and discrimination in our personal lives as well. We will honor Dr. King by recognizing the National Day of Racial Healing on Jan. 16 and call on employees to commit to an anti-hate pledge. My hope is that we will see sincere dedication to its message throughout OCFS. Wherever we can, even if it creates some discomfort, we should challenge ourselves to take a hands-on approach to strive for true equity and also get involved in a local volunteer opportunity. You can use the AmeriCorps Volunteer Search tool found on the AmeriCorps website. I also encourage you to take bold action, not just one day, but as long as needed to achieve this goal.

In just a few short days, Governor Hochul will deliver her State of the State address, and we will get a clearer picture of the role OCFS will play in helping lead the state in providing more comprehensive, responsive and equitable human services. This is a tremendous responsibility, but it’s also one I see as an incredible opportunity.

The new year is often when resolutions are made to build upon past achievements and commit to reaching new goals. I believe each day is a new opportunity and I have many goals for myself as the leader of this agency. For starters, I’m excited about continuing to encourage greater dialogue with you, building off Conversations with the Acting Commissioner. I’m also looking forward to creating a stronger safety culture. Everyone deserves to be treated equitably and feel supported in the workplace. We must also continue to modernize our child welfare system into one that strengthens and supports every family; further expand the affordability and accessibility of child care, making it truly equitable; build on our educational and enrichment programs for young people in the care of our facilities; provide refuge for unhoused and runaway youth, and support the survivors of human trafficking; and ensure the safety of vulnerable adults and greater independence for the blind.

I am confident that the answer to whether we can achieve all this is a resounding “YES!” And I know that none of it will be possible without you. So, as we look ahead, I say “THANK YOU” for carrying this momentum into 2024 and for all you do to protect, strengthen and support our children, families and communities!

With gratitude,

Suzanne Miles-Gustave, Esq.
Acting Commissioner


This Month's News

Download the January 2024 Newsletter

  • State Announces $100 Million Commitment To Address Critical Child Care Shortage
  • OCFS Launches New Policy Author's Guide To Promote Diversity Principles
  • OCFS Employees Donate to Regional Food Bank and Adopt Families for Holiday Season
  • OCFS Sponsors Non-Patient-Specific Auto Injector Initiative
  • Healthy Families New York Programs Honored For Excellent Service in 2023
  • DJJOY Chaplains Discuss Intersection Of Religion and Culture
  • Industry Center Teams Up With Celebrity Chefs To Offer Culinary Workshops for Students
  • NYSCB Marks World Braille Day With Free Braille Training
  • Young People Present to NYS Governor’s Youth Council
  • AmeriCorps Invites New Yorkers to Volunteer In Their Communities on MLK Day