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Directs state landmarks to be illuminated in blue tonight to spread awareness
√ State Office of Children and Family Services Hosts annual ‘pinwheel planting’ and highlights key prevention programs
√ Read proclamation here
Gov. Kathy Hochul today recognized April as Child Abuse Prevention Month in New York State, issuing a proclamation and directing that 13 state landmarks be illuminated in blue tonight in commemoration (including Niagara Falls).
Coinciding with this proclamation, the State Office of Children and Family Services hosted its annual “pinwheel planting” event in Huyck Park in the City of Rensselaer to raise awareness and highlight the need for all New Yorkers to do their part to keep children safe from abuse and maltreatment.
"All children deserve a warm and supportive environment to grow that is free from maltreatment and abuse," Hochul said. "As we begin Child Abuse Prevention Month, we are reminded that we all must do our part to keep New York's children safe. By working together and investing in upstream prevention programs, we can ensure children in our state will reach their full potential."
Hochul’s’ team said, “This year's theme for the month is ‘Family Strengthening and Support,’ highlighting how OCFS and other state agencies have collaborated with their community partners to develop bold new evidence-based initiatives designed to protect children and help families thrive. OCFS commemorated the month by planting pinwheels – the national symbol for a childhood free of fear and trauma – nearby the agency's offices in Rensselaer.
Office of Children and Family Services Acting Commissioner Suzanne Miles-Gustave said, "Our young people are the most precious, yet vulnerable, members of our communities. They need to feel loved, protected, and never afraid of being hurt – in many instances, by those they should be able to trust. OCFS understands that we can't solve this issue by simply addressing abuse after it's uncovered. By connecting families with community-based, culturally responsive resources, we increase the likelihood that children will be raised in a safe and nurturing environment free of stress and trauma."
A press release stated, “Hochul continues to support family and childhood initiatives designed to increase protective factors that reduce the risk of child abuse or maltreatment. Last year, she provided $12 million to open and expand family opportunity centers, which promote positive parenting and family well-being through community or school-based support services.
“OCFS also updated New York state's mandated reporter training program in an effort to undo bias in the child welfare system, which has disproportionately impacted the Black and Latinx community for decades. This effort was also aimed at reducing unnecessary calls to the statewide central register of child abuse and maltreatment based solely on race and poverty, and to help mandated reporters better understand the impact of adverse childhood experiences to prevent inflicting additional trauma on children and families.
“OCFS also expanded Healthy Families NY, an intensive, voluntary in-home visiting program offering family services in partnership with nonprofit community-based organizations, to all 62 counties in New York including the five boroughs of New York City.”
In addition, OCFS has established the HEARS Family Line, which is designed to connect families to community resources offering help with housing, food, health care and more. The line is available for all New Yorkers and can be reached at 1-888-55HEARS (1-888-554-3277) from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays. It is available in 12 languages.