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Kathy Hochul, Governor
Suzanne Miles-Gustave, Esq., Acting Commissioner
February 2018 — Vol. 3, No. 2

Message From The Commissioner

   While February is the shortest month, it is packed full of activity. First, it is African-American History Month. We will reflect on the national theme, “African Americans in Times of War,” during this year’s observance in the home office, which promises to be among the best as we celebrate and highlight the skills and talents of some of our own OCFS youth.
   We are also deeply engaged in the state 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.
   In the weeks ahead, we might keep in mind the degree of dedication and service the nation saw from two leaders whose birthdays we celebrate this month. As two of the most influential Americans who ever lived, Presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln inspire public service. As Lincoln once advised, “Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other,” I hope you will keep up the spirit that drives us to produce positive outcomes for those we serve in New York. We may also recognize the selflessness Washington alluded to when he said, “It should be the highest ambition of every American to extend his views beyond himself, and to bear in mind that his conduct will not only affect himself, his country, and his immediate posterity; but that its influence may be co-extensive with the world, and stamp political happiness or misery on ages yet unborn.”
   Every day I see or hear of a reason to be impressed with how OCFS produces results. Together, we will maintain the positive energy that keeps us all doing critical work that changes lives for the better.


Executive Budget Funds OCFS Programs, Mission

The Governor's Office has released his 2018-2019 Executive Budget proposal. In it, $100 million is made available to reimburse counties for the costs of implementing Raise the Age. The law raised the age of criminal responsibility to 17-years old starting in October and to 18-years-old starting in October 2019; 16-and 17 year olds will no longer be automatically charged as adults. The budget includes separate funding for OCFS and DOCCS capital costs for new beds and for funding county capital costs for developing or renovating secure and specialized secure detention facilities.

he budget proposal maintains last year’s level of funding for child welfare services, which supports vital programs in communities statewide, and for the Foster Care Block Grant. Child care subsidy funding would be restored to $806 million. The proposal also continues $35 million for existing Empire State After School Programs and adds $10 million more of grant funding targeted to high-need districts and non-profit organizations. The additional funding would allow for approximately 6,250 new slots targeted to homeless children and children living in areas of Long Island impacted by gang activity. The budget also continues funding for the Advantage Afterschool program, which when combined with the Empire State After School Program, will provide needed services to 44,200 youth.

The budget also reauthorizes the Close to Home program through 2023. This program authorizes New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services to provide juvenile justice services, including residential placement services, to NYC youth adjudicated in the court system as non-secure or limited secure juvenile delinquents.
The final budget is due April 1.

Radio Visit Promotes Mentoring

   Furthering the mission of the New York State Mentoring Program, Matilda Cuomo visited the studio at WVOX in Westchester on January 24 to encourage listeners and educators to become involved in this life-changing endeavor. Joining Mrs. Cuomo were Tahira A. DuPree Chase, superintendent of schools in the Greenburgh Central School District, Kiana Washington, principal at the Richard J. Bailey Elementary School, Dr. Edwin M. Quezada, superintendent of schools in the Yonkers City School District, and OCFS’s Brad DiPietro of the New York State Mentoring Program. The host was William O’Shaughnessy.

L-R: Kiana Washington, Dr. Tahira A. DuPree Chase, Matilda Cuomo, William O'Shaughnessy, Dr. Edwin M. Quezada. Above, right: Brad DiPietro of the NYS Mentoring Program 

 The school-based mentoring program gives at-risk students the support they need to succeed in school and in life. When the late Governor Mario Cuomo established the nation’s first school-based, one-to-one mentoring program in 1987, it was chaired by Mrs. Cuomo and became a highly successful program that screened and trained volunteers, then matched them to children in their communities to encourage at-risk youth to stay in school and earn a diploma. This programs was reactivated the program in 2015.

Goshen Secure Center Offers Resource Fair for Youth


     Resource fairs are annual events at Brookwood, Columbia and Goshen Secure Centers. They bring community resources to secure facilities to build bridges with community providers. The resource fairs reaffirm NYSOCFS/DJJOY’s commitment to strengthening the re-entry process for youth released from secure facilities. Goshen Secure Center works with DJJOY’s New York City Community Multi-Services Office (CMSO) to provide this collaboration in promoting successful reintegration. CMSO youth counselors set up tables to meet with the youth regarding their transition home.

Presentation Plants Seeds of Wonder at YLA

   On Tuesday, January 16, 2018 the Youth Leadership Academy hosted guest speakers who discussed with our youth the importance of plants. “Plants are alive and are as intelligent as we are!”

   The presenters brought different artifacts with them to illustrate how the world evolves because of plants. One example is burdock and how it’s used for Velcro. The presenters discussed the fact that dinosaurs once roamed the Earth and how their remains became buried and used in the soil. One example of this was plastic wrap coming from “processed dinosaurs.” One student commented, “You mean I wrap my food in a processed dinosaur?”

   The students were intrigued with how many things we use in our daily lives that come from plants. The students were amazed to learn that the plants could play music using a synthesizer. Students also learned that the better we treat the environment, the more nutrients (substances) plants provide us. The students were left with one question, “What would the world be like without plants?” Remember plants are our friends too!

NYPWA Conference Features OCFS Presentations

   The 2018 winter gathering of the New York Public Welfare Association provided an opportunity for OCFS staff to share their views and expertise January 25-26. The conference was called "Celebrating Hope, Progress, and Lasting Change." After acting Commissioner Sheila Poole welcomed the attendees, staff from regional offices, the Division of Child Care Services, the Division of Child Welfare and Community Services, the Bureau of Budget Management, the Division of Juvenile Justice and Opportunity for Youth, the Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment, the Office of Strategic Planning and Policy, the Bureau of Financial Services, and the Division of Legal Services presented on various topics including child care subsidies, the MSAR, the executive budget, education, child abuse reporting, and improving permanency for adopted children.    


   This panel for one of several sessions where OCFS staff made presentations included Emily Peeler of the American Bar Association, Renee Rider, assistant commissioner in the NYS Education Department's Office of Student Support Services, Lisa Ghartey-Ogundimu, assistant commissioner in the OCFS Division of Child Welfare and Community Services, Stephanie Deyoe, associate attorney in OCFS's Division of Legal Affairs, Vajeera Dorabawila, assistant director of OCFS's Research, Evaluation and Performance Analytics, and Kathleen Hoskins, assistant commissioner in the Administration for Children’s Services.

Call Center Passes the 3,000,000 Call Mark

A major milestone was reached on Wednesday, January 17th, 2018 when the OCFS Human Services Call Center answered its 3 millionth call. Christine Lombard, a call center representative, took the call on behalf of the NYS Department of Civil Service on the Civil Service Jobs line of business. Christine was recognized for this significant call and received a gift card donated by management. The HSCC started taking calls in May of 2013 with 5 reps answering calls for the Organ Donor Registry on behalf of the Department of Health. Now, over 100 reps take calls for 40 lines of business representing 10 state agencies. Daily call volume has increased to over to 5,000 calls a day.

L-R: Mike Clough, HSCC director; Christine Lombard, call center representative; Mike Demars, HSCC assistant director

HSCC milestones to date:

  • 500,000th call in May 2015
  • 1 millionth call in February 2016
  • 2 millionth call in February 2017
  • 3 millionth call in January 2018

The statewide Call Center Consolidation (CCC) project is an initiative aimed at improving the consistency and quality of information and customer service provided to all New Yorkers by state agency call centers.

The call center is a customer-focused operation committed to providing consistent and high-quality services to all statewide callers. HSCC business analysts work with the program units within each agency to define calls for transition to the HSCC and to build a statewide knowledge base with clear and consistent content. The relationship with the agencies’ program units continues after the transition with weekly, monthly and quarterly reports and status update meetings.

The HSCC has outperformed the goal of answering 85 percent of all calls within five minutes, and responses from the customer agencies confirm the HSCC is providing excellent service while allowing the customer agency staff to focus on its core mission.

Longevity Awards Recognize OCFS Veterans

   A room full of dedicated employees gathered for the 2018 Length of Service Ceremony on January 12. Organized by the Employee Recognition Committee, the event celebrates staff who reached 25, 30, 35, or 40 years of service in 2017 and presents each of them with a certificate.

   OCFS acting Commissioner Sheila Poole observed the years of service as testimony to the dedication of each staff member and their commitment to the work done at OCFS.



Above: Commissioner Poole congratulates Peter Cirillo

Right: Bill Nolan from the Division of Child Care Services in the Buffalo office, with Amanda Darling, regional CWCS program manager, and Patricia Harper, regional DCCS manager.

Below: Dale Goldstein has no plans to retire.

45 Years - Dale I. Goldstein

40 Years - Gina L. Bromirski, James E. Carroll, Robert A. Ellis, Diane Miller, Anne D. O’Connor, Sue N. Wasko, Erika Weiss

35 Years - Phyllis M. Brunson-Sutton, Timothy R. Bryant, Sr., Louise Beth Falcon, Sharon Flom, Amado Garcia, Renee R. Hallock, Catherine L. LeFevre, Wessie L. Lewis-King, Mark K. Lyons, Eva S. Miller, William M. Nolan, Lawrence D. Payne, Angela J. Powell, Susanne M. Sample-Brown, Muhammad G. Shaikh, Pamela S. Shufelt, Curtis Steed, Treacy A. Terracciano, Beth A. Wanzer

30 Years - Juan M. Alejandro, Craig B. Allen, Gail A. Babcock, Michael A. Blocker, Susan C. Bracco, Wallace T. Brown, Joyce A. Bryant, Michael J. Cahill, Randy L. Charlton, Peter Cirillo, Lynn A. Console, Deborah J. Corneau, Robert Edwards, Beth A. Goyer, Karl E. Grant, Deborah W. Greenfield, Bonnie L. Hahn, Derek Jackson, Mousa A. Jamil, Sharon Beth Jocelyn, Bernadette Johnson, Patricia M. Johnston, Juanita B. Jones, Cynthia Jurkowski, Christine Keane-Barr, Hector Melendez, Thomas Mitchell, Scott A. Morse, Joseph L. Pertilla, Denise M. Pine, Claudia Soriano, Jill E. Sprague, Brenda Spruill, Yvonne Stanley-Kamara, Sue A. Stella-Winkfield, Michael Symes, Richard Vitanza, Joseph K. Walsh, Deanna M. Webb, Eleanor S. Weidman, Horace Wilson

25 Years - William P. Agresta, Linda H. Bresler, Wendy Buckler, Roosevelt E. Bullock, Alvin F. Busch, Jr., Osvaldo A. Bustamante, Glenn R. Camuto, Joseph P. Carroll, Aaron C. Coleman, Miguel A. Colon, Doll B. Cooper, Maryjoan D’Amore, Mary E. Demasi, Peggy Dewar, Edward M. Dower, Regina A. Fields, Marjorie F. Galkiewicz, Gregory J. Garcia, Thomas W. Grandinetti, Sean C. Grant, Warren E. Hamilton, Frederick T. Hausle, Larry D. Hawes, Richard J. Jobin, Darryl C. Joyner, Alan J. Kaflowitz, Brian P. Kelley, Carol L. Kluberdanz, Ann B. Larue, Benedicta N. Lwenje, Mia T. Mannese, Orland L. Miller, Anna R. Myrick-Torres, Paola Nappo-Ficarra, Brian E. Perazone, Maria Pizzola-Dafoe, Wendy S. Reeves, Santo J. Romano, Janet C. Sapio-Mayta, Bobby R. Smith, Norman E. Tillery, Judith A. Tomisman, Elizabeth Vargas, Barry J. Warren, Martha M. Weber, Deborah L. Williams, Charles E. Wright, Leroy B. Young

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