Child Welfare News And Notes

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Kathy Hochul, Governor
Dr. DaMia Harris-Madden, Commissioner
February 2017 — Vol. 2, No. 1

Health Home Care Manager Coordination Program

On December 8, 2016, New York State began enrolling eligible youth into a program called Health Homes Serving Children. It’s a care management program designed to allow all of a child’s caregivers and service providers the ability to communicate with each other so that children’s needs are addressed in a comprehensive manner. The program is designed especially for children receiving preventive services, those in foster care, and youth being discharged from DJJOY facilities.

As of January 3, the number of children in the process of obtaining the service was 10,622. To be eligible, a child must be eligible for Medicaid and meet diagnostic and appropriateness criteria. The diagnostic criteria include: two or more chronic conditions (e.g., substance use disorder, asthma, diabetes) or one single qualifying chronic condition such as HIV/AIDS, serious emotional disturbance or complex trauma.

Managers work as part of a team to develop optimal outcomes for vulnerable populations. Communication happens primarily through the Health Home Care manager, who oversees and facilitates access to services youth need to assure their good health. A manager can remain with a child in foster care along the child’s journey through the child welfare system and be a constant through permanency.

The Health Home Care manager is the point of contact for creating, documenting, executing and updating the individualized child-centered Plan of Care that integrates medical, behavioral health, rehabilitative, long-term care, community and social services, family and peer supports, and the Family Assessment Service Plan. The Health Home Care manager completes the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths Assessment (CANS-NY), which determines Health Home acuity and provides the direction for service provision.

Health Home Care provides six core services: comprehensive care management; care coordination and health promotion; comprehensive transitional care; patient and family support; referrals to community supports; and health information technology to link services.

The Children’s Health Home Referral Portal is initially only available to: LDSS, Local Government Unit’s Single Point of Access (SPOA), Health Homes, Care Management Agencies/Voluntary Foster Care Agencies, and Managed Care Plans. Over time, NYS will expand access to the Children’s Health Home Referral Portal by authorizing entities that are natural points of contact in the systems of care which impact children.

SUNY Winter Break Program Assists Students

OCFS, SUNY and the Administration for Children’s Services joined the governor’s office in December to identify students at eleven SUNY campuses who had no place to stay over the winter break. The effort located nine students in foster care, 15 who were ACS foster care youth, and 17 who said they were homeless or needed assistance. The students were referred to their school’s residence life office and, where applicable, their local department of social services. All eligible foster care students were provided with housing during the break. Seven students who are not in foster care and said they were homeless were provided the same at their SUNY schools.

In early January, some students were calling OCFS asking about this effort and/or meal vouchers. One young woman at SUNY Old Westbury was in tears as she explained she and her family are homeless and she had no place to go during the break. She has been having some difficulty at school because of conduct that got her suspended from her dorm. OCFS placed her in contact with social services agency and worked with the SUNY student affairs team so that she would have a place to stay.

Child and Family Services Plan for Improved Outcomes

OCFS is taking a fresh approach to improving child welfare outcomes that involves a focus on the local Child and Family Services Plan (CFSP). In the past year, the Division of Child Welfare and Community Services has invested in increasing staff competencies in acquiring, processing and applying data within a Continuous Quality Improvement framework. These skills will be invaluable throughout 2017, as OCFS helps counties develop a systematic, data-driven CFSP.

In preparation for the 2018-2022, five-year CFSP, OCFS will roll out a year of guided planning for counties, beginning with regional kickoff events on February 21. The agency will engage counties in coaching calls throughout the year and release data for use in understanding underlying factors and to track improvement. OCFS is looking forward to supporting and partnering with counties through the development of thoughtful, data-driven plans. The events to kick off the county planning process will take place at regional locations that will be announced. These will include group discussions and presentations by OCFS and Public Catalyst, a private organization comprised of a team of experienced and compassionate individuals who partner with organizations to create the solutions and system changes to improve the lives of children and families.

During this event, counties will use the information submitted in their annual plan update’s “2017 Planning Addendum” to develop specific strategies for local planning teams to use during the diagnostic phase of county planning.
People taking part in the kickoff will:

  • overview a step-by-step planning process;
  • share various data reports to help inform local diagnostics;
  • facilitate inter- and intra-county discussions about themes that impact our outcomes; and
  • brainstorm effective ways to share our collective learning about root causes.

Please R.S.V.P. to your regional OCFS office lead or to If you have questions you may contact your regional office or

In the News: Local Media Highlight Adoption Day as Children Find Best Outcomes With Forever Families

In New York, more than 400 adoptions became final in November of 2016, and some of those families found themselves in the local spotlight. highlighted an Onondaga County couple who recently adopted a son - the third child the couple has adopted. The story quoted the mother recalling the day she got the call about the third. "It doesn't take DNA to make a family," she told reporters. "There's nothing better than helping out in our community."

Anytime an adoption becomes final is a cause for celebration, but families enjoy an especially festive time when the date falls during National Adoption Month in November. That’s when the 17th annual National Adoption Day took place, a day to raise awareness of children in foster care looking for a ‘forever family.’ According to the National Adoption Day website, there are about 100,000 such children in the U.S.

A couple pictured in the Victor Post hugging their adopted children at a finalization ceremony suggested the children were the answer to a prayer. "We didn't do anything to get these kids,” the father was quoted as saying, “and we didn't do anything to deserve them.”

On Long Island, WCBS captured 16 families sharing in the beginning of the rest of their lives. One couple beamed as they held their adopted one-year-old son. The station also spoke with a single mother who adopted an eight-year old son who was seen telling reporters, “I want to be adopted forever because I love my Mom.”

Buffalo Regional Office recognizes “Permanency Superheroes”

The regional OCFS office in Buffalo hosted events to promote adoption and celebrate National Adoption Month and also to recognize the people who work finding adoptive families for children. New Heart Gallery locations opened in November with pictures displayed at Canisius College and The Ellicott Square Building to build public awareness about adoption. 

Amanda Cruz, above, and Gloria Flowers
display their "Permanency Superhero"

The Buffalo office recognized two local social services workers and three voluntary agency staffers for working tirelessly with youth and caregivers toward permanency. These “Permanency Superheroes” consistently maintain a sense of urgency in their work, exceed expectations and believe there is a family for every child. The staff honored in November are Gloria Flowers, Niagara County DSS; Jennifer Bigelow, Allegany County DSS; Vanessa Bradigan, New Directions; Maria Fabrizio, New Directions Wyndham Lawn; and Amanda Cruz, Berkshire Farms Center.