About

The mission of the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth & Families (DCYF) is to partner with families and communities to raise safe and healthy children and youth in a caring environment.

We are responsible for supporting children and their families involved in child protection, behavioral health, and juvenile justice.

Keeping children and youth safe and healthy at home, at school and in the community, requires a family-focused and community inclusive approach.

  • Director Trista D. Piccola Rhode Island Reading Week 2018
    Director Trista D. Piccola

    Director Piccola showcases her pick for Rhode Island Reading Week 2018

  • Director Trista D. Piccola

    From left to right: Chris Strnad – Administrator, Children’s Behavioral Health, Teddy Savas – Deputy Director, Karen Deorsey-Smith, Chief Casework Supervisor, Child Protective Services, Dorn Dougan – Regional Director, Trista Piccola – Director, Veronica Davis – Chief of Licensing and Regulation

  • Director Trista D. Piccola Be An Anchor Recruitment Weekend

    Director Piccola and EOHHS staff on Health Cabinet Community Day 2018.

Director’s Bio: Trista D. Piccola, PhD, LISW-S

Trista Piccola, PhD, LISW-S has been the Director of the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families since February 2017. Director Piccola has nearly twenty-five years of public social service experience. Her breadth of experience in the field includes frontline case work, clinical social work in private practice, and a background in research, teaching, and administration. Director Piccola began her career as a child protective services caseworker in Elyria, Ohio. Since, her career has included service in both rural and semi-urban communities in Ohio and more urban communities in the metropolitan areas outside Washington, D.C. Before accepting the Director’s role in Rhode Island, she was serving as a deputy director for Health and Human Services in the Cleveland area.

Since joining DCYF, Director Piccola has refocused agency efforts on child safety as a primary priority including:

  • Restructuring the front door so a more robust screening process is in place and working to finalize a set of standardized tools for assessing safety and risk;
  • Opening the door for families to be able to access to behavioral health services before a crisis occurs and DCYF involvement becomes necessary;
  • Reaching back to communities to establish and maintain conversations about the needs of Rhode Island’s children to create dialogue and understand how the Department can better work with local communities;
  • Rebuilding infrastructure within the department so that there is better oversight of our youth living in institutional care; and
  • Piloting a new methodology for licensing foster families that brought more than 180 new potential foster families to the Department in March 2018.

Originally from West Virginia, Director Piccola attended Baldwin-Wallace College earning her bachelor’s in criminal justice and subsequently graduated Case Western University with her master’s in social work. She earned her PhD in social welfare also from Case Western University. In addition to a professional career with marked experience as an administrator, teacher, and researcher, she volunteers annually for Holy Family Honduras’ Medical Mission Team. Each year, she works with this volunteer group in assisting the deployment of and travels with its medical teams to rural Honduran villages to bring care to its residents.