Child Welfare News And Notes

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Kathy Hochul, Governor
Dr. DaMia Harris-Madden, Acting Commissioner
March 2024 — Vol. 10, No. 1

A Message from Acting Deputy Commissioner Gail Geohagen-Pratt

Acting Deputy Commissioner Gail Geohagen-Pratt

As we shake off winter, spring forward, and absorb the extra sunlight to lift our spirits and recharge our energy, we can also renew our commitment to moving forward the work of Child Welfare and Community Services. While we have accomplished a lot, we continue in the work to advance our vision of a more trauma-informed, family well-being system. There have been many changes in our agency and in our system, but we forge ahead with this shared mission. Our common goal gives us so much to build on and we have a lot to look forward to!

Moving ahead, we are prioritizing prevention to align with the Family First Prevention Services Act and will continue our work on equity-driven strategies. We have already made great strides. We have developed our Bureau of Social Determinants of Health; we are providing Safe & Together training for another approach to domestic violence; and we have provided and will continue to provide trauma-informed training. We have expanded our H.E.A.R.S. line resources and have seen many Family Opportunity Centers open. We now have the Center for Excellence and are making evidence-based practice models available to providers.

An important part of CWCS’s system transformation includes the addition of family policy advisors (FPA) who bring their valuable knowledge, experience and skills to the CWCS team. They have been actively participating and contributing to our Child and Family Services Review process, and we are fortunate to have their input and family-centric lens.

For our partners who work in foster care, I am very pleased to announce and present to you the New York State Bill of Rights for Children and Youth in Foster Care Video which local departments of social services (LDSSs) and voluntary authorized agencies (VAs) can use as a tool to educate youth of their rights while in foster care. This video provides a platform to educate and engage the youth about their rights and how they can seek help if they need more information. The video can be found on the OCFS website under Child Welfare/Foster Care as well as Youth Development. Click on this link to view: Foster Care Bill of Rights Video.

I would like to acknowledge a milestone for our system: the Statewide Central Register (SCR) has been operational for over 50 years. There have been many changes to the SCR over the years, but most recently there were significant changes as a result of the SCR reform legislation. Through hard work and commitment to improve, such as through implementation of the SCR reform legislation, we can reduce harm to children and families by examining our practices and our own implicit biases. This is not an easy process, as change is never easy, but we are making great progress.

The accomplishments of our CWCS team are astounding. I am so grateful for CWCS and all the passionate, hard-working individuals that make up this division. Thank you for all you do.

This Month's News

Download the March 2024 Newsletter

  • National Social Work Month Spotlights Empowering Social Workers!
  • OCFS Recognizes April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month
  • May is Foster Care Awareness Month
  • Governor Hochul’s FY 2025 Executive Budget Includes Maternal and Infant Health Funding
  • Healthy Families New York Programs Honored for Excellent Service in 2023
  • NYS Launches “Protect Youth Workers” Pledge to Prevent Labor Violations
  • New Bureau Covers Social Determinants of Health
  • Race for Results Report Shows Ongoing Racial Disparity
  • OCFS Introduces Equity and Justice Pledge at National Day of Racial Healing Event
  • Women’s History Month in March Recognizes Women Who Advocate for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
  • Mental Health Association of Columbia and Greene Counties Hosts Human Trafficking Awareness Event