This has been a rewarding, professionally inspiring and – because of the incomparable commitment of our staff to our clients – heartwarming first year as CEO of JCCA. I have had the opportunity to meet and get to know many of you and the people we serve, learn about our incredible programs and be continually impressed by the professionalism, dedication and accomplishments of our staff as you bring our mission to life each day. JCCA repairs the world, child by child, because of you and the children, young people and families that motivate us to greatness.
Together, this first year, we have accomplished much:
Reorganizing and streamlining the organization and preparing us for the transition to managed care
With the support of our Trustees and senior leadership, JCCA restructured and streamlined the organization to make our services more efficient. We brought a chief external affairs officer on board and consolidated government contracts, legislative affairs, marketing, communications, social media, fund development and press into one department. We reorganized general services and IT, added a general counsel function and coalesced these under a chief legal/administrative officer. In that role, JCCA welcomed its first in-house counsel. We made some changes to ensure that we are fully prepared for the significant financial and clinical implications of a system-wide shift toward Medicaid managed care, creating a Vice President for Child Health and Well-Being, and moving all of our Care Management Services into one department under one Vice President for Care Management Services. We created a Senior Vice President for Campus Services so that one person is responsible for all programming on our Pleasantville campus, and brought all of our community-based services under a Senior Vice President for Community Services.
Strengthening Our Financial Future
When I joined JCCA last summer, the Trustees asked me to focus on shoring up our core mission, while leading in a fiscally prudent manner. As a result, for many intense months, senior staff worked closely with about 12 JCCA Trustees, including our four extraordinary Board Officers, looking at all of our programs and administrative departments, to determine whether each is having a substantial impact on New York’s neediest and most disadvantaged children, young people and families, and is also fiscally sustainable now and into the future.
Available dollars for the services JCCA currently provides are shrinking. Government contracts do not cover the costs of the services we provide in the way JCCA is committed to providing them. We have had to make some painful decisions to cut some programs and staff. While this has been difficult, JCCA is now more financially secure and better positioned for financial stability in the decades to come. Perhaps most importantly, we have come to accept that our agency is evolving and adapting to an ever-changing environment, with our clients presenting more intense needs, while government and philanthropy continue to change their priorities and expectations. These factors require us to be strategic and nimble.
At the beginning of 2016, we introduced a modern, vibrant look that maintains our warmth, compassion and our spirit of tikkun olam. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. We have been hard at work on a new website and intranet, which will both debut over the summer.
Creating new partnerships and initiatives
In the past year, we have established many new partnerships and alliances, including a joint venture with the Osborne Association, Graham Windham and ACS to promote best practices for our young people who have a family member (usually a parent) who is incarcerated; a partnership with John Jay College of Criminal Justice to develop tools to prepare our young people and their families to fare as well as possible in communities where their race has resulted in their being targeted in hostile ways; and a partnership with Bellevue Hospital’s Children’s Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program to enhance our care for our vulnerable clients on the Campus. We decided to join FPWA (Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies) because this historical organization fights poverty by addressing its root causes, and advances issues that help our young people and their families.
We have also begun the exciting and difficult work of looking at race consciousness inside the agency and how it impacts our services to our children and families. While we were motivated by the horrible shootings of innocent people in a South Carolina church last year, so many more tragedies have continued to affirm our need to be actively engaged to help our clients.
JCCA’s most valuable resource: staff who inspire
The recent Celebration of Hope Gala and our Maslow Award Ceremony provided opportunities to publicly recognize a few of the many stars on our staff. I’m reminded of our Crisis Intervention Team members on the Campus and their patience, professionalism, bravery and genuine understanding of the burden of trauma that many of our young people carry. This, like so much of the work our agency does, is fraught with complicating factors, difficult decisions and perplexing challenges. It is also emotionally and physically draining. Many of us do it because of its remarkable rewards; people at JCCA have told me that it is their “calling!”
The opportunity to have a transformative and healing impact on the life of one of our young people is a gift. Many of you are having as much or a greater impact on the lives of our young people than most of the people in their lives. Some of our youngest clients at START come to mind, or the most challenged young people in our medically fragile foster care program. I think of the child who has had her learning disability ignored in a yeshiva until our social worker from Partners in Caring arrives, or the traumatized, emotionally disturbed, neglected young person placed at Edenwald who doesn’t know how to trust. All of our clients are referred to us for professional attention and respect; many of them crave affection, love and support. JCCA delivers this generously through each of you.
In the year ahead, I envision continuing to work closely with our Board of Trustees and you to further enhance the quality of our services through innovative thinking, strategic alliances with other organizations and staff development opportunities. Historically, JCCA has been on the cutting edge of child welfare practice. I am committed to continuing that tradition.
Thank you all for your dedication to our children and families by supporting their future as healthy, successful members of society.
Sincerely and respectfully,
Ronald E. Richter