Office of Children and Family Services


For Immediate Release: 7/2/2018

Contact: Press Office


Phone: 518-402-3130

New York State Celebrates Foster Care Families With Free Empire Passes for 2018

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) are celebrating foster families by inviting them to explore the outdoors and visit state parks throughout the summer. As part of Foster Care Awareness month in May, foster families statewide participated on a first-come, first-served basis to receive a free Empire Pass to enjoy New York State Parks all summer long. The Empire Pass provides for day-use vehicle entry to the state parks and many other state recreation facilities for the calendar year. OCFS and State Parks are serving 350 families through this program. Eligible foster families were notified by mail of this opportunity to apply. 

“New York’s state parks provide limitless opportunity for families to enjoy the outdoors, experience nature and be active together,” said State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey. “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.”  
There are approximately 13,000 children in foster care living in certified or approved family homes throughout New York State. These are families who undergo foster parent training and willingly open their homes to these children to provide a safe, stable and nurturing environment. Being in foster care can still be a stressful time for the children, and foster families help foster children cope. 
Foster families’ use of the state parks and historic sites can provide opportunities for day trips, vacation activities or camping trips. 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. These benefits are important for all families and no less so for children in foster care and their foster families. 
“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.” 
In New York State, the foster care system is supervised by OCFS and directly administered by local departments of social services. 
About OCFS:
OCFS serves New York by promoting the safety, permanency, and well-being of children, families, and communities. OCFS maintains an active social media presence. “Like” the New York State Office of Children and Family Services Facebook page and follow @NYSOCFS on Twitter in English or the Spanish-language Twitter account, @NYSOCFS Espanol.
About State Parks:
The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 215 parks, historic sites, trails, golf courses, boat launches and more, which are visited by 69 million people annually. A recent study found that New York State Parks generates $1.9 billion in economic activity annually and supports 20,000 jobs. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit, connect on Facebook, or follow on Twitter.