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Kathy Hochul, Governor
Suzanne Miles-Gustave, Esq., Acting Commissioner
August 2018 — Vol. 3, No. 8

Message From The Commissioner

As the Great New York State Fair approaches, I would like to especially thank those OCFS staff who volunteer to staff the OCFS booth to meet the public and share useful information about our agency’s critical services.

The fair promotes New York’s agriculture, food, recreation, entertainment, and services, and OCFS is excited to have the chance to promote our services, such as child abuse prevention, foster care, adoption, child care and contributing to the safety, permanency and well-being of New York’s families. This year we have enhanced our video presentation, providing more highlights of services and practices that enrich and even save lives. Visitors will see new safe sleep videos we have been sharing on social media and the first three installments of The Best of OCFS, and the first ever Energy Warriors competition for youth in our care whose work toward a stable future is fueled by solar-powered cars and a dedicated team of teachers. We have also included inspiring testimonials from New Yorkers who have been in foster care, letting prospective foster parents know how much their involvement can mean to a child who needs them.

Every day, OCFS makes a real difference in the lives of New Yorkers by working to find adoptive and foster parents; assisting with new child care programs, pointing youth toward a life of productivity and stability; protecting vulnerable and older adults; and assisting blind New Yorkers determined to find employment and independence.

I hope that many of you have a chance to enjoy the fair and that all of you will reward yourselves with some much-deserved relaxation time during this last month of summer before school starts. As always, I am grateful for your dedication and efforts in fulfilling our mission. Thank you!


National Electronic Interstate Compact Enterprise (NEICE) Goes Live in New York State

As of August 6, 2018, OCFS is part of an online data system that allows states to share records and exchange information in real time about child placements through the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC). The system is known as NEICE, a centralized database designed to improve make the ICPC process more efficient. NEICE is operated by the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) with the Association of Administrators of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (AAICPC) and is made possible by a grant number from the Children's Bureau.
When a state receives an ICPC request, it will study the placement resource for the appropriateness and safety of the placement. ICPC requests also identify the supervision requirements that will be required upon the child's arrival in the new placement. Recognizing the importance of an expedited and more efficient ICPC process, New York State has joined 22 other states in using NEICE to create better outcomes for children and ease workloads. Twelve more states are expected to be online by the end of the year. Congratulations to Carol McCarthy and the Bureau of Permanency for this advance in serving vulnerable youth and working toward positive outcomes!

"Trusting Their Voice" at the OCFS Anti-Trafficking Summit

OCFS hosted its 2018 anti-trafficking summit in Syracuse August 7-8. Among the presenters was Savannah Sanders, an author who has been involved in anti-trafficking training since 2010, and is especially focused on trauma-informed care and survivor leadership. On day one of the summit, Sanders shared her story of overcoming hardships in her youth and becoming a victim’s advocate who exemplifies survivor leadership.

Discussions during the first day included engaging volunteers in community awareness, building comfort in talking about sex, successes and challenges in building sustainable programs and developing and sustaining authentic relationships.
KeShayla Benson was the keynote speaker on the second day, speaking about how to go about being an “askable adult” and its importance in engaging youth to promote safety by engaging them in meaningful conversations about sexual safety.
The day’s discussion included the role of a Safe Harbour coordinator; work being done by the NYC Child Tattoo Eradication Project and Provider Network, and the Safe Shelter Collaborative.

During workshops, OCFS’s Claire Strohmeyer and Lynn Tubbs covered the use of data in planning for programming that has impact; Karen Sessions spoke about developing a local anti-trafficking program; and Madeline Hehir took a look at “turning the curve” and working through common challenges in program development.

Participants learned about what it means to be an “askable” adult and its importance in engaging youth to promote safety, and discussed areas such as healthy sexual development, concepts of coercion and consent, and how to engage youth in meaningful conversations about sexual safety.

OCFS's efforts to address human trafficking include raising awareness; providing training and technical assistance; and the development and implementation of the Safe Harbour: NY program.
Anti-trafficking work being done at OCFS is grounded in the following values and principles:

• Protecting and providing services to survivors of human trafficking is part of OCFS's mission to promote the safety, permanency, and well-being of New York's children, families, and communities.
• Youth survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking deserve comprehensive, specialized services through the child-welfare system.
• Because commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking can affect anyone, programs and policies are most responsive when they are inclusive of all youth, regardless of age, race, ethnicity, cultural background, gender identify, sexual orientation, or other experience.


OCFS Hires Chief Information Security Officer


Dan Fogett came on board at OCFS in mid-June as Information Security Officer. With 18 years of IT experience, the last seven of which have focused on information security, Dan will be a key resource in OCFS’s continued commitment safeguarding all confidential, personal, private, and sensitive information.
In the role of Information Security Officer, Dan is available as a resource to help navigate OCFS Information Security Polices and offer input into technological solutions that minimize risk while supporting OCFS’s program goals. He says the goal is “to support the OCFS mission while protecting the data of children and families.”
Forgett says he is available to assist in all areas of data security ranging from best practices of how to encrypt an email to implementing review of existing computer system controls. Should you have questions, Dan is available at Daniel.ForgettJr@ocfs.ny.gov or 518-402-2392.


Enhancement Program Is Music to the Ears of FLRC Youth

Finger Lakes Residential Center is tapping into the local community to find people to contribute to the center’s enhancement programs. One of them is a local high school music teacher who has been giving lessons to eight youth. Students have received instruction on drumming, keyboards, and trumpet. Students choose their own songs to learn how to play, many of which come from what is currently popular.

FLRC has been offering a music production class for the last three years. The class is an enhancement program that also focuses on the business side of music, writing and mixing. Students who take the class have an opportunity to learn all aspects of the industry. Eric Harris and Dennis Lewis are youth division aides who motivate youth to make the most of the program, and instructor Jerame Hawkins is a local music producer who has been working with FLRC for several years. “This program is based on our youth having an outlet to express their real life experiences through music,” said Lewis, “and to learn more about the music industry as a whole.”

The youth recorded two songs, “Pray for Puerto Rico,” a tribute to those devastated by Hurricane Maria, and a song about the music program called “Better Man, Better Program.” Those involved in the program dream of one day building a full-fledged recording studio in the facility.

OCFS Staff Share Insight, Expertise at NYPWA Summer Conference

More than two dozen members of the OCFS team will represent the agency at the 149th Annual New York Public Welfare Association Summer Conference in Saratoga Springs, July 15-18. The theme was Trust and Empathy in Action. The conference covered innovative ways of supporting families, promoting employment, and preventing children and adults from becoming homeless; foster family recruitment strategies; the improvement of education outcomes; youth services; and supporting placements with families. More than 30 OCFS staff presented on the following topics and services:

• OCFS’s work related to the implementation of some key provisions of the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act of 2014 and an update on the Child Care Subsidy regulations revision

• The development and implementation of FEIST, a tool that helps adult protective services providers and their partners in the investigation of suspected financial exploitation of vulnerable adults. FEIST is being piloted in three regions in New York State.

• Improving the education outcomes for children in foster care; and the agency’s work with the state’s education department on New York’s planning under the Every Student Succeeds Act

• An introduction to the state of the Safe Harbor: NY program and county approaches to implementing it; its program models, successes, challenges, and sustainability of programming were explored.

• Child fatality review teams’ work in assessing the safety and well-being of surviving siblings and other children present in homes at the time of any child’s passing

• How a domestic violence case review can be conducted to assess DV practice and look for opportunities for improvement

• Various aspects of the Raise the Age law

• Implementation of Title IV-E candidacy and a review of how Title IV-E candidacy
funding fits into the overall child welfare financing structure; and the cooperation of local departments of social services fiscal and program staff to develop and improve business processes to maximize federal Title IV-E and state funding

• An introduction to members of the OCFS Youth Advisory Board, which consists of up to 15 youth with foster care experience who advise OCFS on foster care-related policies and initiatives; a presentation discussing the value of engaging young people in the decisions that affect them and their preparation for self-sufficiency

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