July 28, 2017


The New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) and the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) have given away 500 free camping gift cards and Empire Passes to foster families across New York State. The giveaway was announced in May as part of Foster Care Appreciation Month and the cards have arrived in foster families’ mailboxes.

“We are delighted to show our appreciation to such deserving caregivers while instilling a deeper connection to nature and our state parks for these hundreds of New York foster families,” said State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey. “This successful partnership with OCFS supports introducing children to a variety of outdoor adventures that can inspire them for a lifetime.”

There are approximately 16,500 children in foster care throughout New York State. Fortunately, there are families who undergo foster parent training and willingly open their homes to these children to provide a safe, stable and nurturing environment. Even though these homes are comforting, being in foster care can still be a stressful time for the children, who can feel personal loss when they are separated from their families and are in unfamiliar patterns of living. Foster parents help foster children cope with the stresses of this separation. Normal family activities like a vacation or camping trip, which may not be possible in a family’s budget, can help to alleviate the pressure of being in foster care.

“Foster families can enjoy New York State’s parks and benefit from the positive feelings and reduced stress outdoor recreation brings,” said OCFS acting Commissioner Sheila J. Poole. “We are glad to have this wonderful opportunity to give back to our foster families with some family fun time and hopes that the experience will leave them with happy memories to last a lifetime.”

The camping gift card has a value of $80 and can be redeemed for camping reservations and walk-ups (equal to a two-night weekend stay at a campsite), and/or other purchases such as supplies, firewood, ice etc. when provided by New York State Parks. The Empire Pass provides for day-use vehicle entry to the state parks and many other state recreation facilities for the calendar year.

In New York State, the foster care system is supervised by OCFS and directly administered by local departments of social services (LDSS).


About OCFS OCFS serves New York by promoting the safety, permanency, and well-being of children, families, and communities. OCFS maintains an active social media presence. “Like” the New York State Office of Children and Family Services Facebook page and follow @NYSOCFS on Twitter in English or the Spanish-language Twitter account, @NYSOCFS Espanol.

About State Parks

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 215 parks, historic sites, trails, golf courses, boat launches and more, which are visited by 69 million people annually. A recent study found that New York State Parks generates $1.9 billion in economic activity annually and supports 20,000 jobs. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit parks.ny.gov, connect on Facebook, or follow on Twitter.

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