OCFS Agency Newsletter

Skip to Form

Accessible Navigation and Information

Use the following links to quickly navigate around the page. You can jump to:

Kathy Hochul, Governor
Suzanne Miles-Gustave, Esq., Acting Commissioner
February 2017 — Vol. 12, No. 2

Commissioner's Message

Already, one month of the new year is behind us, and the end of the shortest month is just a few weeks away. We're moving fast, and getting results as we continue our work serving our fellow New Yorkers.

This month is African American History Month, a time when we illuminate the contributions of African American citizens in our state and nation. Our observance in the home office is always an inspiring event and this year's gathering on the 15th will highlight the musical and artistic talents of some of our OCFS youth.

It's also the time of year when we participate in the budget process that supports our work in serving children, youth and families and the broad spectrum of services and programs in child welfare, child care, juvenile justice, adult services and programs for the blind and visually impaired.

OCFS serves vulnerable New Yorkers but also seeks to reduce the need for the services we provide. We're working to reduce the numbers of homeless children, foster children and to eliminate child abuse. We want to protect our elderly population from those who would abuse and exploit them for monetary gain.

I couldn't be more impressed with how OCFS gets the job done. In late January, we learned that the Pew-MacArthur Results First report ranks New York among the top 16 states in evidence-based policymaking. This 50-state study was the first of its kind to assess how states use research to incorporate evidence into their decisions, and categorized states by their engagement levels in areas such as child welfare and juvenile justice. The OCFS team worked closely with the governor's office over the past year to achieve this distinction. Nice going!

Let's keep up the positive energy. It empowers us all to do our best. I'm proud of the effort you make every day. It furthers our mission, inspires those around us and brings light to those we serve. 


State of the State Proposals Would Raise The Age, Protect Seniors, Ease Child Care Burden

The Governor recently unveiled his proposed budget, which includes proposals to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 18, to protect older New Yorkers and vulnerable adults from financial exploitation and to increase the child care tax credit for middle class families.

The governor has once again introduced a proposal to process all 16- and 17-year-olds in Family Court or a special youth part of the Criminal Court system for the most serious crimes, rather than processing them through the adult criminal justice system. The plan would also create a hybrid residential facility for youth convicted of serious crimes.

The executive budget also includes legislation to strengthen protections against financial exploitation. The legislation would empower banks to place holds on accounts when financial exploitation is suspected in order to curtail this harmful practice.
Financial exploitation of seniors is a national issue. The New York State Cost of Financial Exploitation Study estimates the cost of this crime in New York State may be as high as $1.5 billion annually.

Child care affordability
More than 200,000 middle class families would receive a tax credit toward their child care costs. Families earning between $60,000 and $150,000 would see their tax benefits more than double, on average from $169 to $376.
The "Enhanced Middle Class Child Care Tax Credit" would mean fewer parents would be forced to choose between working and providing safe, quality child care arrangements. It would supplement the current New York State Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. New York State currently offers a fully-refundable Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, which offers a maximum benefit of 110 percent of the federal credit for taxpayers with incomes below $25,000, and the rate phases down to a low of 20 percent of the federal credit for those with incomes of $65,000 or above.

Child welfare financing
The executive budget proposes a five-year extension of open-ended state funding at an enriched 62 percent rate for several critically important services for children and families that include child protective, preventive, independent living, after care and adoption services (not including adoption subsides).

Changes to the definition of “abused child”
The executive budget includes legislation that would amended the definition of “abused child” that appears in Family Court Act §1012. The new definition would expressly include children whose parent or the person legally responsible for their care permits, encourages, commits or allows any offense that would, under the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, render a child either a victim of sex trafficking or a victim of severe forms of trafficking in persons.

Runaway and Homeless Youth Act reform
The executive budget includes legislation to enhance the services available to runaway and homeless youth. This proposal would allow local governments that receive Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) funding the option to make the following changes to their local plan to delivery RHYA services:

  • Raise the maximum permissible age that homeless individuals may be served in longer-term residential programs from 20 to 24
  • Extend the authorized period for residential services to be provided to homeless youth in longer-term residential programs from 18 to 24 months
  • Extend the authorized period for residential services to be provided to runaway youth in crisis services programs from 30 to 120 days



OCFS Earns Two Slots in New York State Leadership Institute

Two OCFS employees will be part of an exciting leadership development opportunity. The Governor’s Office of Employee Relations and Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy have launched the New York State Leadership Institute. It's designed to increase leadership effectiveness by providing tools and strategies to successfully meet complex challenges in state government. Debbi Davis in the Bureau of Budget Management and Jim Hart in the Division of Child Care Service will participate. During the course, participants will explore leadership principles and practices and examine their personal leadership strenghts and development opportunities; strengthen their business acumen, ability to lead people, effect change, drive results and build coalitions; build a network of relationships across diverse agencies and organizational units to collaborate on innovative, results-driven solutions; and engage in a variety of learning experiences, including facilitated classroom instruction, case studies, reading assignments, small group activities, team-based projects and self-assessment.

Program Dates and Locations
The program will be held in the Capital District beginning February 2017, with sessions running through December 2017 at the Albany Training Center of the Professional Development Program at Rockefeller College (orientation will be held at University Hall, on the main campus of the University at Albany).The institute will accommodate 40 highly motivated M/C employees who were nominated by an agency head and who have demonstrated ability or potential to lead at a high level in state government and have at least a bachelor's degree or comparable experience.

Child Care's Pickel Hailed As "Champion for Children"

The New York State Association for the Education of Young Children (NYSAEYC) has recognized Kathleen Pickel, the manager of the regional office support unit in the Division of Child Care Services, as someone who has dedicated her work, time and resources to children, families and the field of early care and education - a "Champion of Children." She will be recognized at the Champions for Children Awards Event at the Annual NYSAEYC Conference on Friday, March 31st in Rye Brook, New York.

Deputy Commissioner Janice Molnar nominated Pickel, saying she has "made a significant contribution to the field of early care and education and is worthy of a Champions for Children, Early Childhood Supporter award...it is because of her that New York State regulations, especially those for child care centers, have been considered by Child Care Aware of America to be among the best in the country, ranking second after the Department of Defense."

Pickel is the lead on child care policy and regulations and their enforcement, the training of child care providers, and providing assistance to six OCFS regional offices across the state. In her nominating letter, Deputy Commissioner Molnar said Pickel has worked on a wide range of issues to improve the field of early care and learning for over a decade, including revising child day care regulations, establishing policies and increasing the health and safety of children in care.
Pickel began working at OCFS in 1985 as an intake worker and later as a supervisor at the Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment. Prior to that, she was at St. Catherine’s Center for Children, working directly with young women who needed emotional and behavioral support.

Youth Leadership Academy Rings In Year With Strategy Session

Students joined the education and clinical teams at the Youth Leadership Academy last month to discuss goals and strategies for the second quarter of the school year. “In order to meet individual students’ educational needs, it’s really important that we are all on the same page,” says Education Supervisor Rosanna Kieru. “We took advantage of the New Year to re-orient students to the classroom culture and asked them to verbalize their goals for 2017.”

Each student sat down with teachers and clinicians and talked about his or her educational goals and past successes, as well as future challenges. YLA Director Bernard Smith joined the meetings to encourage and support the effort. “This is an important process” Smith said, “as we are all here for the residents.” Students were enthusiastic about the upcoming quarter and all seemed excited to begin a new schedule.

OCFS Celebrates Milestones in State Service

In a room full of familiar faces he knows from 30 years of state service, Joe Ziegler was caught off guard by a flood of memories and emotions.

"I was surprised by how good it felt to see people I have liked and admired over the years stand with a smile on their face, as they were recognized for a lifetime of service," Ziegler said. "I thought the team who organized the luncheon did a good job of making it a meaningful experience for all of us."

Ziegler was one of many OCFS staff members who gathered for the Length of Service Ceremony on January 18. Organized by the Employee Recognition Committee, the event celebrates staff who reached 25, 30, 35, or 40 years of service in 2016 and presents each of them with a certificate. 

Sharon Imam has been with the state for 30 years, 16 of them at the Statewide Central Register. She's not ready to stop. "I'm not ready to retire yet," she says. "I just can't sit at home." Imam's degree in community and human services will serve her well when she does retire someday. "I haven't found exactly where, but I want to work with children."

Joe Nye has 35 years behind him. "Through all the changes that have occurred over the last 35 years, the essential functions of what we do to serve people who are blind in New York State remain pretty much the same," Nye said. "It has been a pleasure to work with this population and this agency for this long."

OCFS acting Commissioner Sheila Poole told those gathered she and the executive team are grateful for each honoree's dedication.

"The passion, the coming to work to help us fulfill our mission - that's not easy to do after three or four decades of service," the commissioner said, "and it's quite a testimony to each of you and to your commitment to what we do here."

40 Years - Cecil Carston, Jewell W. Cheesboro, Linda D. Gaydushek, Rosemary Glover-Henry

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Pat Sikora receives her certificate

35 Years - Janet M Almasi, John C. Bahret, Debbie Benson, Susan A. Costello, Amy Dauski, Marybeth Foster, Patricia M. Heaman, Barbara A. Irish, Linda E. Irving, Patrick S. Kelsey, Faye A. Lewis, Frank M. Malagisi, Carol McClellan, Alexander Miller, Morris Morton, Amy Murphy, Joseph C. Nye, Debra J. Pinckney, Robert A. Rich, Bonnie L. Sherman, Annie C. Wellington, Patricia L. Winter, Robert L. Young

30 Years - Elizabeth Abel, Ruth M. Bascom, Beatrice Beguin, Dana L. Brown, Maria Brown, Debra Causa, Hilton R. Cooper, Diane M. Deacon, Colleen E. Fischer, Tracy D. Foreman, Catherine Genevieve, Lisa Gordon, Patricia Harper, Judith Hartman, Thomas R. Hoeg, Sharon Imam, Marilyn J. Jackson, Pamela A Jobin, Gregory Jones, Cara J. Korn, Lori A Lehner, Diane Lipins, Jeffery B. Logan, Daniel F. Maxwell, Paulin Noelizaire, Gregory G. Owens, Migdalia R. Ramos-Ensslin, Todd Schraffenberger, Andria Smaila, Robert P. Spinelli, Steven Templeton, Gary T. Tofinchio, Barbara L. Velie-Welch, kimberly J. Walker, Karen A. Walkowiak, Bruce Walsh, Beverly A. Watson, Jimmie L. Winkfield, Joseph P. Ziegler

25 Years - Cyntia A. Brookins, Scott W. Burdick, Christopher J. Burns, John E. Chayka, Glendalyn E. Coley, Janice P. Curren, 

                    Ruth Bascom receives her certificate

Mark Demma, Leocadio Estrella, Herbert E. Green, Bryant N. Hill, Eugene Jackson, Jeffrey S. Lucas, Bernice E. Majors, Bevin D. McCaine, Michael R. McCrady, Ronald J. Miller, Billy Moss, Melissa S. Murphy, Mary E. Muzio, Angela D. Reshard-Player, Raynard Rutland, Julie Sheils, Patricia F. Sikora, Thomas J. Smyth, Vance Stevenson, Roseline A. Taklor, Carlson G. Tillman, Mary Alice Vitti, Beth Warner, Eric D. Warner.

GIS Training Available to OCFS Employees Through 2017

A free class designed to help you map, analyze, and access hundreds of data sets from various New York State agencies is available to OCFS employees throughout 2017. The Critical Infrastructure Response Information System (CIRIS) is a powerful, easy-to-use, secure, web-based geographic information system (GIS) application, developed and maintained by the NYS ITS GIS program office.  More than 4000 people have accounts.

It’s a great class for both technical and management personnel, beginner or advanced. CIRIS is a perfect tool for those who do not require desktop GIS but would like a simple-to-use geospatial application that accesses a wealth of NYS specific data.

It's an instructor-led, half-day course called "Introduction to GIS Using CIRIS,” every month at the home office in Rensselaer. 

The purpose of the “Introduction to GIS Using CIRIS” course is to introduce students to GIS concepts and CIRIS tools and to explore how these tools can benefit the user in their particular job. Specifically, students use GIS methodology via CIRIS tools to map and extract critical information by:

  • understanding basic GIS theory and functionality,
  • learning CIRIS capabilities and limitations,
  • selecting appropriate mapping and analysis tools, and
  • developing and evaluating results of CIRIS geospatial analyses to meet user needs.

Analysis examples include:

  • Show all day care centers within five miles of a point on the map
  • Display and perform analysis on tax parcels in any county
  • Show all hospitals in NYS that have more than 400 beds
  • Create a map that includes schools, police stations, fire stations, juvenile justice facilities, school district boundaries, and tax parcels

The 2017 schedule (All classes are on a Tuesday from 8:30 to noon.):

March 7, April 4, May 9, June 6, July 11, August 8, September 12, October 17, November 14, December 12.

If you're interested in the class, send an email to john.fox@its.ny.gov. OCFS employees receive preference for seats; if openings are still available, other state agencies can join in.