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The Commissioners' Committee on Cross-systems Services for Children and Youth is comprised of health, education and human services agencies, and parent and youth partners, focusing on achieving better outcomes for children, youth and families by improving access to services and supports; ensuring quality coordinated services and supports from a qualified workforce; and collaborating to eliminate service barriers between systems. The Council on Children and Families plays an important role in this initiative and fully participates in its continued deliberations and activities. The Commissioners developed a message defining the priorities of the workgroup.
The Coordinating Council on Children with Incarcerated Parents (CC CwIP) brings together key state agencies, community-based organizations and individuals, including formerly incarcerated parents and family members of incarcerated parents, to improve the lives of children of incarcerated parents. Under the leadership of the Council on Children and Families, and in partnership with the Osborne Association and the Division of Criminal Justice Services, CC CwIP addresses ways in which to improve practices to support children and families from the point of arrest to issues to pertaining to parent-child communication during incarceration and to family reunification. The CC CWIP welcomes the input of formerly incarcerated parents and other family members.
To respond to the federal requirement to establish or designate Early Childhood Education and Care Councils, the Children's Cabinet decided to reorganize its Advisory Board and establish a new body— the Early Childhood Advisory Council— that will include current members of the Advisory Board with early childhood expertise and representatives of early care and education, health care, child welfare, and mental health programs, advocacy organization, parents, foundations, higher education, unions, state agencies and others involved in the provision of comprehensive services to young children and their families. This group will focus on addressing the structural issues that have impeded the development of a comprehensive system of early childhood supports and services.
The www.earlychildhood.org website has been developed by the NYS Council on Children and Families' Head Start Collaboration Project to support professional development and improve the quality of early childhood and school-age programs. It is designed to provide a one-stop source of information for those exploring careers in early childhood and school-age programs as well as those already working in the field and looking to advance in their careers. It also contains information that supports the efforts of program directors and others to improve the quality of their programs.
In 2003, the NYS Department of Health (DOH) received a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to plan, develop and implement the Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems Initiative in New York State. During the development phase, the Council co-chaired this initiative with the DOH. DOH is transferring the grant funding and overall responsibility for implementation to the Council. The five-year plan includes multiple strategies for establishing a comprehensive system of services for young children and their families including improving access to health care, meeting mental health needs, expanding parent education programs, and establishing a system of early identification and home visiting services for vulnerable families. The Council will oversee the implementation of these strategies as the various agencies assume their responsibilities under the plan, including the Office of Mental Health, State Education Department, Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, Office of Children and Family Services, Department of State, local provider, county government, academia, parents and advocacy organizations.
The Commissioner's Senior Staff and Family and Youth Partners Workgroup made the decision to use ENGAGE—NYS Commissioners working across systems together with youth and families!— as a brand for cross-systems communications for the following closely related initiatives:
Family Support and Youth Development share core principles and a common goal of ensuring the healthy, productive well-being of children and families. The Council promotes the integration of these principles into policy and practice through its involvement in Partners for Children and the Youth Development Team as well as its leadership role in the creation of the Family Development Credential and the development of the New York State Resource of Family Support and Empowerment.
The mission of the FASD Interagency Workgroup is to increase awareness and advance the effective prevention and treatment of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) in New York State through interagency collaboration and coordination. In addition to working through interagency committees, each participating agency is empowered to examine its own policies, practices, regulations and laws, to determine how it can positively impact the goals of eliminating alcohol use during pregnancy and improving the lives of New Yorkers affected by prenatal alcohol exposure.
The Council is authorized by law (under powers and duties of the Council) to work with state and local agencies and parents to identify and resolve interagency issues and jurisdictional disputes that impede access to services for children and youth who are hard-to-place and hard-to-serve because of their multiple disabilities. The primary objectives in resolving these cases are to ensure that individual children receive the most appropriate community-based or residential services; minimize delays in arranging services; resolve service disputes; and facilitate the development of specific services and programs designed to meet the needs of children and youth, particularly those with non-traditional and complex needs. Nearly 3,000 children and families have benefited from Council intervention.
Since 1990, the Council has administered this federally-funded Head Start project that has the following objectives: to link Head Start programs to state and local initiatives serving low-income children and families; to encourage collaboration among Head Start and other appropriate programs and services; and to facilitate the involvement of Head Start in state policies, plans and decisions affecting the Head Start target population. For example, Council staff are convening meetings with state and federal officials to ensure the implementation of the Universal Pre-kindergarten program maximizes the annual Head Start funding for New York State that is in excess of $450 million. The Council also conducts a number of training, policy development and systems enhancement projects across the eight federally mandated priority areas (including, health care, family literacy, and services to children with disabilities). To implement these projects, the Council has developed strong collaborative relationships with state and local agencies, community-based providers, colleges and universities.
Since 1997, the Council has been a member of the state-level KIDS COUNT network, supported with funding by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. A primary objective of the New York State KIDS COUNT project is to disseminate county-level data that focuses on child well-being in order to advance the use of children's health, education and well-being indicators as a tool for policy development, planning and accountability. The Council produces an annual data book and special reports focusing on emerging and specific topics. The Council also partnered with the Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children, Office of Children and Family Services and the Office of Court Administration to present child-focused, child welfare and court data in The Child in Child Welfare and the Courts Data Book (2006).
In 2003, the Council launched KWIC, an interactive website that advances the NYS Touchstones/KIDS COUNT data dissemination process by expanding access to New York State children's health, education and well-being data; providing more current data; expanding the number of indicators presented; providing access to other data resources; allowing users to chart, graph and map data; and giving users the ability to tailor data to fit their needs. KWIC ( http://www.nyskwic.org), a one-stop data warehouse with data from numerous Council member agencies, is available to data users twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
Established within the Council by law in 2005 (Social Services Law, Section 483-d), this Committee is charged with coordinating the development of legislative, fiscal and program strategies to strengthen the in-state infrastructure and reduce out-of-state placements. The committee is composed of the commissioners of the following state agencies: State Education Department, Office of Children and Family Services, Office of Mental Health, Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, Department of Health and Office of Probation and Correctional Alternatives. In addition, the Commission on Quality of Care and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities, Division of the Budget, two family representatives and the CCSI statewide director participate at the work group level of the committee. The Committee submitted an annual report in February 2006 and will submit its second report in February 2007.
Established within the Council by law in 2006 (Social Services Law, Section 483-e), this committee will identify the most effective, least restrictive and safest techniques to modify the behavior of children residing in or being served by a program approved by a State agency and who are at risk of harming themselves or another person. The committee includes the commissioners of the Office of Children and Family Services, Office of Mental Health, Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, Department of Health and State Education Department; statewide and regional provider organizations; mental health professionals who provide direct care to children; and, parents of children requiring special services.
In the mid-1990s, the commissioners and directors of New York State's health, education and human services agencies developed a common set of measurable goals and objectives that lead to improved outcomes for children and families. These goals and objectives reflect expectations about the future and are organized by six major life areas: Economic Security, Physical and Emotional Health, Education, Citizenship, Family, and Community. Each life area has a set of indicators that reflect the status of children and families. This framework is called the New York State Touchstones.
Please see the Council Archives section for past initiatives and publications.