Above the Law?

October 18, 2017

To the Editor:


It’s interesting that a child care provider funded by a state grant on Roosevelt Island can be served with a cease and desist order by the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) on a Tuesday, and continue to illegally operate on Wednesday and Thursday while the chief funding agency conducts business right down the street. And then be open on Friday as well, with the blessing of the same state agency without ever having to shut down and have a formal OCFS hearing. Any other provider served with a cease and desist order would have had to shut their doors and attend a hearing before being given the ability to resume operation. 


Does this mean RIOC stepped in and smoothed things over for the Roosevelt Island Youth Program, absolving them of any consequence? 


Presumably, RIOC President Susan Rosenthal would argue this to be “for the children’s sake,” though I hardly agree that illegally operated child care centers or programs are in the best interest of children – nor is it in the best legal interests of the provider or the primary funding agency, RIOC. 


I imagine having the youth center, funded by RIOC, closed on her watch would be quite embarrassing for Ms. Rosenthal, particularly after RIOC promised, just eight months ago, that the additional funding came with more oversight and controls.


It is quite the lesson for all of us that some of us on Roosevelt Island don’t have to play by the rules, even when the well being of our children is involved. The attitude of being above the law and entitled comes honestly around here I suppose. 


Katherine Martin



[Editor’s Note: RIOC sent the following response.]


The letter written by Ms. Martin makes many assumptions, all of which are incorrect. RIOC learned of the OCFS cease-and-desist order on October 5 in the late afternoon. Earlier that day, the NYC Department of Health (the entity which performs inspections and reports to OCFS) had visited RIYP, inspected the operation, and noted that it was now operating with a “single focus doing recreation activities” — hence operating as a drop-in center, which does not require an SACC license. Lacking an SACC license, RIYP came into compliance by changing its method of operation, and was deemed compliant based on these interactions, not any actions of RIOC.


It is RIOC’s understanding that RIYP will still be disciplined and subject to administrative action by OCFS for the prior form of operation.


Susan Rosenthal,
RIOC President


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