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.
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:
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.