“In light of all the attention that’s been focused on our department of social services recently, this proclamation carries a great deal of added importance and gravity,” said Legislator Roy E. Reehil, District 5, chairman of the Legislature’s Human Services Committee. “It is an acknowledgement that the work of preventing child abuse and neglect is an ongoing, constant, 24/7 responsibility.”
He read aloud the proclamation which stated, in part, that “child abuse and neglect is a very important concern” and that prevention “depends on the involvement of people throughout the community.”
The proclamation went on to read that “child maltreatment often occurs when people find themselves in stressful situations, without community resources, and don’t know how to cope. The majority of these cases stem from situations that are preventable in an engaged and supportive community and can be reduced by making sure each family has the assistance they need to raise their children in a safe nurturing environment.”
Reehil said that the rate of confirmed child abuse and neglect cases in Oswego County is triple the state’s average. “Because of that fact, I’d like to take a moment to thank all of our Child Protective Services workers and, in fact, all of our team at DSS,” he said. “You don’t get enough recognition for the difficult work that you do every day. Today we recognize that work and ask the community for the support necessary to carry on your important mission.”
Effective child maltreatment prevention programs work through partnerships among social service and law enforcement agencies, schools and civic organizations, and faith and business communities.
Reehil concluded, “As the proclamation outlines, prevention is only possible with reporting from concerned citizens from every walk of life. The saying ‘if you see something, say something’ is very applicable here.”
Oswego County Department of Social Services Deputy Commissioner Marti Babcock agreed. “Families today tend to live much more isolated lives than when most of us were young,” she said. “There is not the same safety net of natural supports – people in the community that are looking out for each other’s children.”
“It’s critical that people get involved in the life of a child, whether it’s in their extended families or in their neighborhoods,” she continued. “Let that child know that you’re there for them and that you’re watching out for them. Keep them connected to your community.”
Oswego County Legislature Chairman James Weatherup, District 9, echoed a similar sentiment during his monthly address last week. He also talked about meetings the County Legislature held to discuss the tragic loss of Jordan Brooks and call for a plan of action following the arrest of his parents for their role in his death.
The Legislature passed two resolutions authorizing independent investigations. The first to be conducted by attorney Scott Iseman after criminal proceedings are over. Iseman will investigate the facts and circumstances around the response and handling of all reports about Jordan’s case by the County’s DSS.
The other investigation will allow the Bonadio Group – which is familiar with New York State Social Services Law and New York State Office of Children and Family Services regulations – to conduct a review of DSS procedures to identify its response actions, trends, strengths and weaknesses, and note areas for improvement.
“The public needs to know that we are being thorough in our efforts to follow-up on this case,” said Weatherup. “Moving forward, we will let these investigations show us the facts, which will help determine our next steps.”
The Oswego County Legislature’s Human Services Committee oversees the Department of Social Services. In addition to Legislator Reehil, committee members include Vice Chairman James Karasek, District 22; Frank Bombardo, District 7; Marie C. Schadt, District 19; Tim Stahl, District 20; Herbert Yerdon, District 2; and Michael Yerdon, District 1.
National Child Abuse Prevention Month is recognized every April by the Oswego County Legislature.
To report a suspected case of child maltreatment, call the State Central Registry at 1-800-342-3720.