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One Year Until Family First Implementation!

September 29, 2021, is New York State’s Family First implementation date! With less than a year to go, our Family First Readiness effort is supporting counties to continue implementing strategies and reforms that keep children safely in families. 

Counties across the state are instituting new practices such as triage models and congregate care administrative reviews; new policies that include full disclosure of options for kin; new tools like Tableau to manage using data; and new programs like the Triple P parenting intervention. These efforts and others, along with robust implementation support from the State and RHF consultants, is decreasing the use of congregate care and increasing the use of certified kinship foster care in most counties.

This month, new ADMs from the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) are providing guidance on two key practices to strengthen our system: kinship firewall and blind removals practices.


Sign Up to Join the Working with Data Community of Practice!

Are you the “data guru” for your agency? Could you use some peer support to continue growing your skills and increasing your impact on reaching Family First goals?

RHF is sponsoring the creation of a Working With Data Community of Practice!

What is it?

An informal group to share and discuss:

•    Practical application and use of data 

•    Barriers to effective use of data

•    Identification of data needs

•    Collecting data to evaluate initiatives

•    Optimizing visualization

•    Telling your story with data

Who is it for?

•    County data leads, teams/reps

•    Staff responsible for measurement/evaluation

•    Individuals interested in incorporating data into their practice 

Who is organizing it?

•    Sponsored by the Redlich Horwitz Foundation

•    Facilitated by County data folks

When is it?

•    Standing, once-monthly Zoom meetings

•    One hour per month

•    Day & Time TBD


OCFS Releases Two New ADMs: The Blind Removal Process and the Kin-First Firewall Practice

The New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) has issued the following new Administrative Directives (ADMs), which you can access using the links below: 

This ADM advises local districts of social services (LDSSs) the requirement to develop and implement The Blind Removal Process. The goal of this process is to eliminate bias in decision-making during the CPS removal process, decrease the overall number of children being removed from their homes, and build a more equitable system of care.

This ADM informs LDSSs and voluntary agencies (VAs) of the requirement to establish a kin-first firewall practice to increase safe and appropriate kinship placements for children. The kin-first firewall practice must address both instances of initial removal and of children being moved while in care. Kin-first firewalls are intended to make kinship placements the presumptive placement for children, thereby expanding family-based care and helping LDSSs and VAs prepare for Family First Prevention Services Act implementation. 


Resources to Lead from the Middle and Support Culture Change in Child Welfare

How can we best support and sustain our Family First Readiness and other system-change efforts in light of competing priorities, limited resources and differences in impacts? RHF recently held a virtual learning session focused on supporting child welfare staff at all levels with approaches to leadership and culture change. 

It’s not too late to access a recording of the session, as well as the session materials, to help you gain buy-in both from those to whom you report and from those who report to you!

Access the recording here:

And the session materials here:


Thank you for reading! If you have any suggestions for how to make this newsletter more responsive to your needs, please email me, Jessie Rothkuo, directly at And please visit to learn more about our ongoing support of Family First implementation statewide, which includes our Tools & Resources page.


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