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Kathy Hochul, Governor
Suzanne Miles-Gustave, Esq., Acting Commissioner
August 2016 — Vol. 11, No. 5

Commissioner's Message

   Once again, we are looking forward to the Great New York State Fair in Syracuse, a 12-day celebration where OCFS will be among the state agencies enjoying and promoting our great state’s agriculture, entertainment, food and services.
   My special thanks go to those who staff the OCFS booth and help to educate visitors about the many services available from our agency. Whether it’s working to find adoptive or foster parents, assisting in the start-up of child care programs, guiding youth toward a productive life, protecting our elderly and vulnerable, or providing training that helps the blind find employment and maintain independence, OCFS regularly makes a significant difference in the lives of our fellow New Yorkers.
   Our State Fair booth this year will include videos about our services, including one showcasing the work of Alan Lawitz in preventing financial exploitation of older and vulnerable New Yorkers. I’m delighted to share with you that Alan will accept the 2016 National Adult Protective Services Association’s President’s Award in Philadelphia later this month. Alan’s commitment and dedication as the Director of the Bureau of Adult Protective Services is an example of how focusing on important work improves the lives of those we serve and inspires others.
   On the same day we begin to celebrate all things New York at the fair, home office will be observing this year’s Multi-Cultural Day, an event to celebrate cultures, cuisines and traditions from around the world. It’s a fun way to raise awareness of the many cultures represented in our agency and to remember how our diversity helps us to better serve the diverse population of New Yorkers. As always, I thank you for your tireless work on their behalf.


APS Director Alan Lawitz Wins NAPSA President's Award

 Bureau of Adult Services Director Alan Lawitz is the 2016 recipient of the National Adult Protective Services Association's prestigious President's Award.

  The award is given in recognition of outstanding contribution in the APS field, as demonstrated by a dedication to elders and persons with disabilities and the commitment to improving the quality of services to that population. 

  Among those who nominated Alan is Art Mason, the director of the Elder Abuse Prevention program at Lifespan. "Alan has led the effort to improve the quality of services to older persons and persons with disabilities who are at risk," Mason said in nominating Alan. Mason also pointed out Alan's work on the New York State Cost of Financial Exploitation Study, released in June on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. One of the people who conducted research for that study, Lisl Maloney, also nominated Alan, writing, "Thanks to his efforts, NYS APS now has a very cooperative relationship with the
NYS Division of Financial Services, which oversees financial institutions. Referrals to APS from banks are up and when
bank records are needed to thoroughly conduct an investigation, caseworkers now obtain those with relative ease."

  Lawitz called the award that he will accept at the 27th Annual NAPSA conference in Philadelphia at the end of August "a total surprise." 

PREA Audits Find DJJOY in Full Compliance

  The New York State Office of Children and Family Services Division of Juvenile Justice and Opportunities for Youth announces all twelve DJJOY residential facilities have achieved a full-compliance certification following audits required by the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). "This achievement represents DJJOY’s absolute commitment to zero tolerance for sexual abuse and/or sexual harassment within our residential facilities," says R.J. Strauser, director of the OCFS Bureau of Management and Program Support. This certification means DJJOY is fully compliant with the federal standards set forth in the PREA in 2003. DJJOY has been undergoing PREA audits of one third of its residential facilities each of the last three years and plans to keep striving to maintain full compliance with the standards designed to ensure the safety and wellbeing of youth and staff within OCFS/DJJOY.  

Safe-Sleep Provisions in New Laws Designed to Save Lives, SCR Hotline to be Posted in Schools

  On July 21, 2016 OCFS informed the Governor’s Office of our support for two pieces of legislation the Governor has signed that are designed to help keep babies safe and alive. The new laws place no mandates on OCFS, but the bills center on a problem the agency has long battled: unsafe sleeping conditions for infants.

  Under one of the new laws, maternity patients will eventually see informational leaflets or videos that contain recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics on safe sleep practices. These materials are to be developed by the New York State Department of Health (DOH) in conjunction with hospitals. The law requiring these new leaflets and/or videos takes effect November 18, 2016.

  Under the second measure, DOH is to produce an informational leaflet on crib safety in conjunction with the Division of Consumer Protection. This law requires DOH to direct that each hospital provide this crib safety leaflet to each new mother when she leaves the hospital with her newborn. They will also be available to the general public upon request and on the DOH website.

  Starting May 1, 2017, hospitals will be required to ask all maternity patientso whether they have a new crib available. If the answer is no, the hospital would have to give the patient information on where to get one. 

The governor has also signed a new law requiring every public school in New York State to post the telephone number for the Statewide Central Registe and directions on how to access the OCFS website.  SED regulations will dictate how this information is to be posted at schools starting January 17, 2017. 

Finger Lakes Youth Get a Close Look at the World of Veterinary Medicine

     When Finger Lakes Residential Center science teacher Maura Egan-Martin stepped into the Cornell University Hospital of raalong with three of her students visited the Cornell University Hospital for Animals she had three of her students with her, each one ready for a look at behind the scenes of the surgical suites. Before the visit was over they would also see demonstrations of ultrasound imaging, MRI, a CAT scan, radiation therapy and even assist in surgery. During the visit, they saw a puppy's surgery. Cardiologists explained pacemakers, then allowed students to stay and see one being placed in a dog that had a heart arrhythmia.

   When the time came for observing the dentistry aspect of animal care, students saw what's good for human teeth is sometimes used on animals, too. Along with a good cleaning, one dog received braces.

  At the large animal hospital students were exposed to horses, pigs and cows, including the famous fistulated cow with a hole in her side to allow for monitoring digestion. According to Ms. Egan-Martin, the visit was a great learning experience for her students. 

 In class the next day, the students explained to those who didn't make the trip what they saw and learned, and also answered questions. That led to the creation of a list of students requesting to go on the next Cornell trip. 

Healthy Families New York Updates Its Look With New Website Design

   Healthy Families New York went live with its new website late last month, offering users an improved design with their inviting and exciting look. HFNY is a home visiting program designed to improve the health and well-being of infants and children. Established in 1995 by OCFS, the service is delivered by non-profit organizations in local communities. 

   HFNY's mission is preventing child abuse, neglect, and other adverse childhood outcomes by supporting positive parent-child bonding and relationships; promoting optimal child and family health, development, and safety; and enhancing family self-sufficiency.

   Healthy Families New York is a collaboration of Healthy Families New York home visiting programs, OCFS, Prevent Child Abuse New York, Inc., the Center for Human Services Research of the State University of New York at Albany, and Healthy Families America.

International Day Scheduled for August 25

 The theme of this year's International Day, to be held August 25, is "Celebrating Multi-Culturalism." The co-chairs for this event are Terri Beers and Doris Day. OCFS is partnering with the Diversity Planning and Advisory Committee and invites all employees to join the celebration. The event runs from noon until 1:00 pm in rooms 102S and 144N at the home office, and in front of the main entrance to the south building. 

   Anyone who would like to volunteer and share the music, food, art and traditions of their heritage are encouraged to be part of this event. More information is available from Terri at Terri.Beers@ocfs.ny.gov and from Doris at Doris.Day@ocfs.ny.gov.