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District Environment and Conditions

Providing child protective services in New York State is a program whereby locally administered programs are supervised by a state agency. More specifically, Local Social Service Districts reside within each county and the city of New York, usually within a Department of Social Services (DSS) that are responsible for providing direct services to children and families. The state agency, OCFS, is located in Albany and responsible, among many things, for providing regulatory oversight of all local programs. In this report all references to “OCFS” means the state agency and “district” refers to the Local Social Service District or the County Department of Social Services organizations participating in the Demonstration Project.

In a federated model such as this, many policies and practices are developed and implemented by the district. Under their purview they can administer programs in a way that best suits their needs. This structure, common in intergovernmental programs, typically creates a diverse administrative environment across the state. This condition, coupled with naturally embedded differences in county geography, community make up, population, and location, makes the statewide picture even more complex.

Understanding the CPS variability across NYS is important for a couple of reasons. In terms of assessment, any statewide change in productivity, mobility, and satisfaction must take into consideration all district variability. One set of conditions exists with one district and does not within another. Taking a birds-eye view and confidently stating that any changes are taking place means normalizing these inconsistencies so that patterns can be detected.

In terms of deployment, recognizing the divergent and complex environments can help in larger planning efforts. Knowing that districts operate differently can help set expectations in how technology will/can be integrated. Further, sharing best practices among the districts can maximize the statewide investment.

The following areas show the range of variability in the district’s policies, deployment strategies, and environmental conditions. Despite this range of conditions, clear statewide patterns in productivity did emerge.