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Kathy Hochul, Governor
Suzanne Miles-Gustave, Esq., Acting Commissioner
July 2018 — Vol. 3, No. 7
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Message from the Commissioner

The front page of the OCFS intranet now has a feature that will both demonstrate the positive impacts our work has on our fellow New Yorkers and inspire us all to strive for excellence and to nominate fellow staff for distinction among the “Best of OCFS.”

The Best of OCFS was created to showcase the important and meaningful work we do, and to show how our work directly affects the people we serve daily. I hope you will nominate yourself or your colleagues by emailing a description of your work and how it makes a difference in the lives of the children and families of New York State. Inaugural honorees showcased their work this spring. You can see their presentations on the “Best of OCFS” page.

The first round of honorees presented their work at home office, highlighting the dedication and devotion that goes into the agency’s services and the positive results that spring from that commitment. Whether it is blind and visually-impaired New Yorkers who learn to become independent and maintain employment, or county agencies analyzing data in ways that seek to place children into permanent homes faster, or college-bound youth learning building trades, I am highly impressed by the care and effort that goes into producing these and many other stories of successfully executing ideas in a meaningful way. Please send your nominations to bestofOCFS@ocfs.ny.gov.

I hope you are able to find some fun time this summer to spend with your family and friends enjoying relaxing moments that are so well deserved. Please know I am truly grateful for the amazing work you do each and every day.

Articles

OCFS Reviewing Proposals for Credible Messenger Program to Improve Safety and Well-Being

The Office of Children and Family Services is considering proposals from non-profit agencies to join in implementing the Community Credible Messengers Initiative (CCMI). The initiative makes $2.25 million available over five years for agencies in each of four regions: Long Island, Buffalo, Rochester and the Mid-Hudson region. Through the initiative, OCFS and its regional voluntary agency partners will build collaborative, community-based networks to support youth returning to their communities following a juvenile justice placement. CCMI seeks to prevent youth from involvement in activities that caused them to be arrested in the first place, including involvement with gangs. Notification of awards is scheduled for August 8, 2018.

Part of each funding award will be dedicated to vocational and employment opportunities for the youth. The funding is subject to availability. The agencies will identify and partner with grassroots non-profit agencies in their communities that have experience working with high-risk youth and families with a goal of building positive alternatives to gangs and other negative influences the youth may encounter upon returning to their communities.

For each of the four regions, the awards will be in the amount of $450,000 annually for five years. In addition to the credible messenger and parent partner component, there is the development of up to $100,000 to be directed to the development of vocational/employment opportunities in communities where OCFS youth are returning home.

The funding is targeted to large urban centers for agencies that have demonstrated the ability and willingness to develop positive forces in the lives of high-risk youth. Parent partners who have had similar experiences to the parents of these youth will assist them in navigating the local service systems.
 
Project Highlights:
  • Recruit, screen and hire credible messengers from the targeted communities to serve as mentors for OCFS-placed youth. A key feature of the credible messenger model is cognitive-behavioral skill development and 24/7 availability.
  • Recruit, screen, and hire parent partners who have personal experience in the juvenile justice and/or human services system to assist families of OCFS youth in navigating local service systems, and developing their own skills to access services.
  • 25 percent of each of the four grant awards will be dedicated to workforce development opportunities for OCFS youth in those targeted communities. 

Goshen Secure Offers Opportunity for Youth to Prepare for the Future

Goshen Secure Center now offers its residents an expanded selection of certification classes through the enhancement program to help them transition into the workforce when they leave OCFS. These are classes that give our residents an edge over those who are not certified. Among the classes available are OSHA10, OSHA 30, and flagging and scaffolding classes. Enhancement programs are usually after school programs that are not part of the required curriculum, designed to spark a greater interest in planning for a new life.

Passing the classes mean residents will have certification cards to show prospective employers. The next series of classes to be offered includes instruction on asbestos in construction, asbestos operation and maintenance, lead in construction, mold remediation, fire watch, and fire guard. Goshen staff are excited to be able to provide this type of instruction, and look forward to seeing residents leave OCFS with a head start on others in the working world.

OCFS Participates in Elder Abuse Prevention Event on WEAAD

OCFS was part of a productive discussion in Albany on June 15, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Sponsored by Senior Services of Albany, the Albany Guardian Society, and OCFS, the panelists included Albany County District Attorney P. David Soares and staff members from his office's Seniors and Law Enforcement Together team. The gathering highlighted strategies for working professionals to recognize and respond to financial abuse of older adults.

Joint Effort With State Parks Puts 350 Empire Passes in the Hands of Foster Families

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) and the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) celebrate foster families this month by presenting 350 of them with Empire Passes that will help them to explore the outdoors and visit state parks throughout the summer. During Foster Care Awareness month in May, foster families statewide participated on a first-come, first-served basis to apply for the passes, which provide for day-use vehicle entry to the state parks and many other state recreation facilities for the calendar year.
“It is our goal to connect as many families as possible to state parks and I am proud to of this initiative to help foster families, for whom we are deeply grateful, enjoy all the adventures our parks and historic sites offer,” said State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey.
Family activities such as vacations and camping trips can provide opportunities to strengthen the bond between family members; build positive shared memories than can help children and adults to cope in times of stress; and allow personal growth through exposure to new environments and learning about different places.
“The stress reduction and positive feelings that can come from outdoor recreation are invaluable for families,” said OCFS acting Commissioner Sheila J. Poole. “This has been a wonderful opportunity to support our foster families with summer fun time that can enrich their lives and create memories they can cherish forever.”

OCFS Anti-Trafficking Summit

 

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