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NYSCA News   Issue 5   Winter 2015/2016
A Message from the New York State Children's Alliance Board Chair

Happy New Year New York State CACs and MDTs!  As 2015 comes to a close, I wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on the year just past and the year to come.  2015 was a year of significant growth for NYSCA which we intend to expand upon in 2016. 

The primary focus of the NYSCA Board this past year was on growing NYSCA into an organization that could better serve the needs of our membership.   Hours and hours of work went into development of a board restructuring strategy and a staff reorganization plan for NYSCA.  As a result, we began actively recruiting board members from outside the CAC community to broaden and diversify our board.  I am happy to report that we have just added a new member to our Board:  Barb Sweitzer, an executive with the YMCA.   We are also in the process of hiring an Executive Director to lead NYSCA into the future.   Ultimately, NYSCA will have two full-time employees to support our state's CAC programs. 

This expansion of NYSCA staffing would not have been possible without the involvement of the Office of Children and Family Services, who offered to provide financial support for our increased staffing.  The Board is supremely grateful to OCFS for its willingness to support us and for what that says about its belief in NYSCA. 

I can speak for the NYSCA Board when I say that we are excited about  these changes and where they can take us in 2016 and beyond.   We are determined to provide our membership with leadership in all aspects of the work we do, assistance in meeting program standards and increased training opportunities.   We want to serve ALL of you in the best way possible.  I do believe NYSCA's future is bright and is an organization that the membership can take pride in.

Keep up the good work and stay tuned for coming attractions.

Renee Smith Rotondo
NYSCA Board Chair
Update on NYSCA Executive Director Search

The NYSCA Board has formed a five person committee to conduct a candidate search for an Executive Director for NYSCA.  Just before Thanksgiving last year, a job posting was published for the position.  There has been a very healthy response, with a number of well-qualified candidates to consider.  The committee will be conducting both phone and personal interviews in the coming weeks.  The intent is to have an Executive Director on board by the beginning of March.  The membership will be notified once we have hired someone. 
NYSCA Provides Membership with Team Building Funds
Christmas came a little early this year for NYS CACs, when NYSCA provided its membership programs with a small stipend to use for team building activities.  Of our 40 programs,  38 took advantage of this opportunity.  Funds were used for a variety of events, including a team yoga session, trivia night, and holiday luncheon.        
Congress Comes Through with Funding for Child Advocacy Centers

The National Children's Alliance led Child Advocacy Centers and their supporters in advocacy efforts on a federal level throughout 2015. The nationwide outreach has been effective.  The Fiscal Year 2016 Omnibus Appropriations bill (passed by Congress on December 18, 2015)  includes $20 million for Child Advocacy Centers under the Victims of Child Abuse Act; an increase of $1 million over FY 2015!   Additionally, Congress funded VOCA at a level of $2.66 billion; an increase of $312 million over FY 2015!   

What's New in NY's CACs?
The Child Advocacy Center of the Finger Lakes , a program of the Partnership for Ontario County, celebrated the opening of its new location on Monday, November 30, 2015,  with a well-attended ribbon cutting and best wishes from the community. 
Assembly Minority Leader, Brian Kolb, provided a Citation saying that the State of New York and its citizens "offer congratulations to the Child Advocacy Center on the imperative and impressive work that has taken place over the years and in recognition of the newly-established Canandaigua Center."  He also stated, "our community is fortunate to welcome this outstanding organization and wish them the best of luck in the crucial work and positive results they provide."

The Center is located at 482 North Main Street in Canandaigua, NY.  This new site features sound-proof interview rooms, a medical room, a counseling suite, private family meeting rooms and a child-friendly, comfortable waiting room.
The Child Advocacy Center of Northern New York is pleased to announce that we recently hired a therapist to join our team. Chelsea Bango, LMSW, began her career as an advocate at the CAC of NNY, left to pursue her passion of pr oviding therapy for children who have experienced trauma, and now has returned to us as our therapist. Chelsea is trained in Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and is ready to sit for her clinical social worker exam. In addition to therapy, Chelsea plans to provide support groups for children, teens and non-offending caregivers. We are grateful for NYSCA's support in helping secure additional funding for the CACs in New York State.  It is due to this increased funding that we will be able to offer trauma focused therapy to children and their caregivers free of charge. 
As part of  Bivona Child Advocacy Center's commitment to offering the full continuum of care to children and  families in the community of Rochester, NY forensic interviews are now being digitally recorded. The transition to  video recording began on Monday, November 2, 2015. The practice of video recording allows the agency to  follow best practices of child advocacy centers nationally.  

Video recording of forensic interviews has become more common in the last few years throughout the country  and in New York State. As a whole, video recording allows the investigative team to have an accurate account  of what the child said, exactly as they said it, while also capturing their nonverbal  communication. Video  recording can also be beneficial for the investigative team to review as they attempt to corroborate any  statements that the child made during the interview. As the case potentially moves forward, the recording can be  viewed by prosecutors and other team members so the child does not have to repeat their story over and over  again.
Every Thanksgiving morning since 2006, members of Midtown Athletic Club in Rochester, NY gather together for  Thanks For Giving Yoga to raise awareness and funds for Bivona Child Advocacy Center. This annual sold out  event is attended by more than 100 peop le and has become a tradition for many families.

Since the inception of the fundraiser, more than $17,000 has been raised. This year alone, more than $6,000 
was raised in the timeframe of 1.5 hours. All proceeds directly benefit the children served at Bivona.

Each year at the completion of the class, it is not unusual to see tears from the class instructors, Randi  Lattimore and Karyn Lederman as they remember the reason for their efforts bringing  change to the issue of  child abuse.

The  Bronx Child Advocacy Center was "adopted" by Firefighters for Kids Engine 92 Ladder 44 Battalion 17  This was a real Christmas miracle.   A toy drive was attempted by the CAC, but only a handful of gifts were collected for the December 22nd Christmas Party.  Then the CAC received a message from the  the Firefighters for Kids Foundation that they had over 30 bags of gifts for donation.  For many of the children, this was the only gift they would get to open for Christmas. The Firefighters for Kids Foundation truly saved and made Christmas for so many of the children of the Bronx that come through the CAC doors.

The New York State Children's Alliance is pleased to announce 
that our state is now home to 34 Child Advocacy Centers 
accredited by the National Children's Alliance!  

Congratulations to our 2 newly accredited Child Advocacy Centers: 

 The Cortland County Child Advocacy Center

 The Madison County Children's Advocacy Center

Congratulations to our Child Advocacy Centers who were  re-accredited in 2015 :

Chemung County Child Advocacy Center
Child Advocacy Center of Niagara

Child Advocacy Program of Chautauqua County

Child At Risk Response Team of Schoharie County 

Children's Advocacy Center at the 
Westchester Institute for Human Development

The Dr. Stephen and Suzanne Menkes Child Advocacy Center

Jane Barker Brooklyn Child Advocacy Center

Harriet M. West Child Advocacy Center (Saratoga Center for the Family)

Otsego County Child Advocacy Center

START Children's Center, Inc.
Office of Children and Family Services Update
Happy New Year from OCFS!  I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday.  Into the new year, lots of work continues around the different initiatives we spoke about at the NYSCA Annual Conference.  The Invitation for Bid (IFB) for the CARCC program is going to be released in the very near future.  Work continues on the Request For Proposal (RFP) for MDT/CAC regional expansions.  We hope to see the RFP released in the early springtime.   The Forensic Interviewing Best Practices (FIBP) Curriculum updates have been approved and the changes are being implemented. NCA Trak is in full swing.  Every CAC is officially using NCA Trak!  Thank you again to all of you that had to transition over and to those of you who provided support to your fellow programs during this process.

In other news, OCFS is working closely with NYSCA to provide funding and support to the state chapter.  We hope to strengthen the collaboration and continue to grow and expand as a state.  Thank you again for another year of your commitment to the children and families of New York State!  Hope to see you all very soon.

Melaney Szklenka
Child and Family Service Specialist
 New York State Children's Alliance, Inc
 phone (516) 406-0225 | fax (516) 710-7832 
nysca.coordinator@gmail.com | www.nyschildrensalliance.org
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