Pinwheel garden near Capitol aims to inspire more healhty families

Gazette photo by Jonathan Forrester


Children planted a pinwheel garden in Albany’s Academy Park outside the state Capitol on Monday to mark Child Abuse Prevention Month in New York state, designated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The New York State Office of Children and Family Services and Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, along with local elected and social services officials, held a ceremony across the street from the statehouse to raise awareness of the issue.

The pinwheel garden will remain through the end of the month. The pinwheel is the national symbol of child abuse prevention and a visual reminder that all children deserve a carefree and happy life.

Child abuse survivors often experience mental, physical and behavioral health problems, depression, difficulty maintaining healthy relationships and attachments, problems maintaining employment and other issues.

In New York state, dozens of professions are mandated to report child abuse to a statewide central register, including medical and hospital personnel, school teachers and officials, day care workers and law enforcement.

Last year, the hotline took more than 300,000 calls that resulted in nearly 200,000 investigations of abuse or maltreatment. The central register also screens individuals seeking employment in certain fields caring for children and vulnerable adults.

OCFS trains 135,000 child-serving professionals each year to recognize and report abuse.

The state agency on Monday unveiled an advertising campaign to raise awareness among expecting and new parents of the Healthy Families New York home visiting program.

“An important part of prevention is providing families with the support and guidance they need to raise healthy, happy children,” said OCFS acting Commissioner Sheila Poole. “We hope this campaign attracts more families to the program so they can enjoy the positive outcomes it creates.”

There are 38 Healthy Families New York programs, serving more than 6,000 families each year in all five boroughs of New York City and 27 counties statewide.

“The city of Albany is committed to efforts that achieve better outcomes for children,” said Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan. “The Pinwheels for Prevention Campaign shines a light on an important program that serves children and families throughout New York. I’m proud to stand with these state leaders today to remind all that we must protect and nurture all of our children so they can reach their full potential.”