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Kathy Hochul, Governor
Suzanne Miles-Gustave, Esq., Acting Commissioner
February 2024 — Vol. 9, No. 2

February Commissioner's Message

Dear Colleagues,

I’m so excited we are entering Black History Month! This year’s theme, “African Americans and the Arts: Preserving History and Empowering Generations,” shows how the impact of the Black community isn’t confined to one month, year or decade. Our celebration of Black history and commitment to addressing racism shouldn’t be either; it’s something we need to highlight and strive toward every day.

The theme also reminds me of my educational roots in the arts, which I’ve loved sharing with you during Conversations with the Acting Commissioner! I’ve found art to be such a powerful tool in expressing emotions and bringing attention to issues facing our society. I’m so excited for our upcoming Black History Month celebration that will be built on this theme – including what I know will be a simply fabulous performance and presentation by Broadway artist and choreographer Hettie Barnhill. We are also planning to follow up on January’s call to action on racial healing by offering art therapy rooms that will feature the creativity of Black artists. I hope you will use this unique resource to better understand how we can be more supportive of the Black community. Stay tuned for details!

While our Black History Month events will call attention to the joy and beauty in Black culture, we must also still be aware of the need to continue to work toward racial healing and overcoming the ongoing inequity in our society. A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation (AEC) – a partner of the New York State Council on Children and Families –reminds us of all the hard work we have ahead of us to build a far more equitable society. For example, only 49% of both Black children and Latinx children in New York State are growing up in financially stable families compared to 74% of white children. You can read more about the 2024 Race for Results report later in this newsletter.

The only way to truly transform our state and services is through increased investment in programs that will confront the disproportionate impact of longstanding policies. I recently testified before state legislative leaders in support of Governor Kathy Hochul’s FY 2025 executive budget plan. It is our pledge to guide how we use that funding with our “North Star” goal of equity.

I am so grateful to serve under a governor who is supportive of innovative ways to meet the needs of the children, families and communities we serve. And I’m so proud of all the wonderful work each of you do every day to help accomplish this. The state funding we receive and the programs we launch are only as good as the staff who makes them a reality. Thanks to your heart, passion and dedication I am confident we will continue to build a stronger, more equitable New York for everyone!

With gratitude,

Suzanne Miles-Gustave, Esq.
Acting Commissioner


This Month's News

Download the February 2024 Newsletter

  • Governor Hochul’s FY 2025 Executive Budget Includes Maternal and Infant Health Funding
  • Acting Commissioner Announces Reorganization of OCFS’s Policy and Research Offices
  • Acting Commissioner Participates in Neighborhood Cleanup for MLK Day of Service
  • Recruitment Resources Available for Child Care Providers
  • New Bureau Covers Social Determinants of Health
  • OCFS Introduces Equity and Justice Pledge at National Day of Racial Healing Event
  • Brookwood Students Join Community College Discussion on Combating Stereotypes
  • NYSCB Joins VISIONS Annual Braille Celebration
  • OCFS Marks Human Trafficking Awareness Month
  • Race for Results Report Shows Ongoing Racial Disparity