Dear JCCA Colleagues,
As I reflect on 2017, I am more appreciative than ever of you, our JCCA staff members, who continue to devote yourselves to the highest quality of care for our children and families. While we cannot predict what the future holds, I am optimistic because of the strength and courage you bring to the work we do together, and because of the inspiration we all derive from our remarkable clients.
For many of us, 2017 was particularly challenging. I’ve written to you more this year than ever before in response to a seemingly incessant cascade of natural and human-made disasters. Today, however, I write about all the good things that happened at JCCA in 2017. The following is by no means a complete account, but I would like to highlight the ways we built upon JCCA’s strong continuum of care this year.
- Our first stop is Care Management—a complex and ever-changing landscape. Strategic planning, dedication, and tireless work at all levels have positioned JCCA to become an industry leader in making sure children throughout the city avoid unnecessary hospitalizations and complications in 2018 and beyond.
- A bigger piece of our continuum than ever, JCCA’s educational supports have flourished in 2017. We enter the new year with a second transfer school, Liberation Diploma Plus, a robust Early Literacy Program, and an impressive slate of JCCA alumni on track to graduate college in May. And you may not be aware that in Queens, the dedicated social workers of Partners in Caring bring their expertise to Jewish day schools and yeshivas. The social workers use JCCA’s signature philosophy of trauma-informed, culturally-sensitive care to connect with kids, their teachers, and their families to identify and treat serious emotional and behavioral issues that interfere with our clients’ ability to learn.
- Next, we began the critical integration of the Preventive Services and Foster Home divisions, leveraging our substantial expertise in child safety assessment and family support. The collective wisdom of our terrific team is helping improve our clients’ lives and has reinforced the importance of collaboration as a key value. Among other measures, we are consistently recognized by ACS for our success in recruiting kinship foster homes and for the achievements of our foster youth in college.
- New this year, our foster home program for unaccompanied minors is a stunning, heart-warming success. Reflecting our roots as a charity serving immigrant orphans, the program finds homes for undocumented children who have arrived in the United States without their parents. For these young clients, who have often escaped treacherous circumstances and are here without family, we are their safety net. Because of our services, they have access to food, shelter, school, medical care, education, and hope.
- As we continue along the continuum, we arrive in Pleasantville, where our team is doing such important work for our State’s most vulnerable kids. 2017 was the first full year in which the tremendous work we do was bolstered by our meticulously crafted campus “mission.” Under the slogan “One Team, One Campus,” the entirety of residential staff operates with the same measurable goals and processes. Too detailed to describe in full, this framework provides an unprecedented level of transparency and accountability which has paid off—both on grounds and at the state level, where officials have asked JCCA to share the nuts-and-bolts development of our renaissance.
- As the structural supports of the entire agency, JCCA’s behind-the-scenes divisions are more agile and strategic than ever before. In 2017, we welcomed a new Chief Financial Officer and a Chief Operations Officer. Our annual gala was a record-breaking event. The energy and creativity of all our administrative teams are inspiring, and their work leaves us well positioned for the challenges of 2018. I am consistently impressed by our dramatic efforts to integrate fiscal and operational efficiencies into our programmatic developments. These changes reflect an important step forward in JCCA’s adaption to the future.
Throughout my time with JCCA, I have been so proud of the dedication and compassion of our workforce, as well as the perseverance and resilience of our clients. We strengthen families and help them build fulfilling, productive lives. I am confident that in the upcoming year, no matter the struggles, we will all work together to further our commitment to transformative change. All we accomplished thus far demonstrates that it is possible.
With gratitude and appreciation of all the work you do, I wish you, your family, your friends, and your community a healthy and peaceful New Year.
Thank you for all you do every day,
Ronald E. Richter