Child Welfare News And Notes

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Kathy Hochul, Governor
Dr. DaMia Harris-Madden, Acting Commissioner
September 2023 — Vol. 8, No. 1

A Message from Acting Deputy Commissioner Gail Geohagen-Pratt

Acting Deputy Commissioner Gail Geohagen-Pratt

I am both humbled and honored to have been appointed acting deputy commissioner for OCFS’s Division of Child Welfare and Community Services (CWCS) after Lisa Ghartey Ogundimu’s recent departure. I am committed to keeping the momentum going and bringing to fruition the initiatives she championed. Our collective goal with both new and existing programs is to fortify families and create a family well-being system.

We know that child welfare work can be challenging, but it is also so rewarding -- knowing we can help give a voice to those who should be heard and help mitigate adversities they may face.

It is a privilege to work alongside all of you to change the trajectory of child welfare so families receive services before they become system-involved. Thank you for your commitment to this work and for your dedication to the children and families of New York state.

As we celebrate Child Welfare Worker Appreciation Week, September 11-15, let’s take time to acknowledge the many contributions made by these remarkable folks. OCFS is fortunate to employ so many conscientious and dedicated staff who respectfully serve individuals, families, children and communities, and contribute to the betterment of society as a whole. Fall is harvest season and almost upon us. It brings the new school year, which is the source of excitement for many children as they anticipate getting new school clothes and school supplies, being with friends, school activities and learning. It is a happy time; Mother Nature leaves us in awe of the colors and beauty of the season.

For those involved in child welfare, however, it can be a season that generates anxiety. Fall can amplify challenges, such as not having money for school clothes or supplies. Children may be in a different school system than the previous year, leaving them to try to acclimate and make new friends. These stressors can also contribute to learning difficulties. Those of us working in child welfare are charged with helping alleviate these stressors by connecting families and children with concrete resources, as well as emotional and behavioral supports.

And we have the tools: Our HEARS line is providing those in need with connections to community resources, and the Care Portal is connecting them with concrete supports. Our family policy advisors are helping us assess our approach to child welfare and providing valuable feedback. Our exciting and innovative Direct Cash Transfer pilot has begun, and 150 families who were child-welfare-involved are now receiving $500 per month to help mitigate financial hardship and, we hope, lessen the likelihood of future child welfare involvement.

And we are so excited about the several family opportunity centers that have opened across New York state. These centers are a great resource for families who need support with challenges created by poverty, education barriers, substance use disorders and lack of quality health care. You can read more about our family opportunity centers later in this newsletter.

We are committed to using all the tools at our disposal to improve our system and the lives of those we serve.

This Month's News

Download the September 2023 Newsletter

  • New Acting Deputy Commissioner Appointed for Child Welfare and Community Services
  • Innovative Direct Cash Transfer Pilot Program Aims to Support Families
  • Register for Child Welfare Worker Recognition Event
  • You’re Invited to Help Celebrate Kinship Care!
  • Journey to Independence: From Homelessness to Supportive Housing
  • OCFS Launches Campaign to Raise Awareness of Abuse Targeting Vulnerable Adults
  • Workforce Recruitment and Retention Campaign Aims to Attract More Social Services Employees
  • U.S. Supreme Court Decision Upholds Indian Child Welfare Act Regarding Foster Care and Adoption
  • Youth Mental Health Listening Tour Uncovers Widespread Teen Unhappiness
  • OCFS Celebrates New Family Opportunity Centers
  • St. Catherine’s Center for Children Hosts Picnic at New Family Opportunity Center
  • Two More Family Policy Advisors Join OCFS
  • OCFS Celebrates National Foster Care Month, Issues Call for More Foster Parents
  • New Software to Streamline Foster Care/Adoption