DUTCHESS COUNTY, N. Y. -- Toni-Marie Ciarfella, a longtime social worker in the Hudson Valley area, has been appointed to the new role Dutchess County's deputy commissioner for special needs, Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro announced.
This newly created role, believed to be the first of its kind in the New York State, oversees programs and advocates for people and families with special needs and abilities. It is an extension of the Dutchess County Think Differently initiative to encourage communities to work to include everyone in their programs and services, officials said.
The administrative role involves working with other county agencies, such as Community Health, Office for the Aging, Public Works and others to develop programs and services to help those with special needs conquer everyday tasks, officials said.
“We are excited to have Toni join our team and getting her started on the focused goal of improving the quality of life for individuals of all abilities,” Molinaro said at a recent press conference announcing the appointment at the Arc of Dutchess.
Ciarfella, who has more than 30 years working in the special-needs field, was selected from a pool of more than 50 applicants, county officials said. She began her career at the Children’s Home of Poughkeepsie, and went on to work at Greystone Programs, Green Briar Adult Home and Vassar Brothers Medical Center.
In 1989, she began a tenure that spanned more than 20 years with the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities in a variety of positions of increasing responsibility. Most recently, she has served as the director of field education for the Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) program at Marist College.
She is a licensed clinical social worker through the state's Department of Education and has earned Master of Public Administration from Marist College and and a Master of Social Work from SUNY Albany. She's now working on her Ph.D.
“I am honored County Executive Molinaro had the foresight to create this position for Dutchess County and grateful that he has selected me for this position. I look forward to taking on this new challenge,” Ciarfella said.