ERIE COUNTY, NY— Today, the Poloncarz administration released this statement regarding a report issued this afternoon by the New York State Office of Children & Family Services. The report focused on 275 Erie County Child Protective Services (“CPS”) cases to ascertain whether adequate and appropriate casework activities were completed during the investigation period to make accurate safety and risk assessments, support determinations, assess service needs and legal action where required, and document supervisory oversight.
“We have received and reviewed the Audit Report from the NYS Office of Child & Family Services (OCFS). We are pleased by the report’s findings and we welcome the perspective that OCFS provides as we work together to facilitate more positive outcomes for children and families. Among the report’s findings are investigative tasks completed in a more comprehensive manner, improvements in interviews with collateral contacts, and information gathering completed more diligently. These findings are an affirmation of the many initiatives the Department of Social Services has implemented in CPS over the past year, and this report is a testament to the hard work and dedication of CPS workers.
In addition to an overall view of the appropriateness of CPS’s actions, the report also focused on the strength of the initiatives taken by Erie County CPS to improve case practice. The efforts cited in the report include the hiring and training of new workers, the introduction of robust supervision and coaching, a quality assurance process of case reviews, initiating greater data driven quality review, and utilizing a national consultant to get the benefit of a national perspective. Going forward, OCFS will join with Erie County managers and leadership on a monitoring plan to strengthen and sustain the stronger practice and results for children and families we all seek and expect.
Erie County is currently in the process of drafting legislation that proposes to establish new criminal standards for actions that endanger the welfare of children, provide for more robust and intensive CPS investigations, and update technology and reporting practices to better serve children and families, as well as focusing on other improvements to current CPS law. Our efforts are based on real-life experiences and challenges encountered by the Department, and propose changes that are fundamental in some cases and common sense in others. We anticipate the completion of this legislation soon and look forward to a community-wide discussion of these ideas and more on how the CPS system can be fortified.
As we have said, we welcome the role that OCFS plays in building a stronger, more flexible and responsive CPS system not only here in Erie County, but across New York State. The current system, created in 1973 and virtually untouched since, does not reflect the realities of modern society and as a result, struggles to deal with them. We will work with OCFS and our statewide counterparts to create a local and statewide CPS system that is more reflective of contemporary issues, more flexible and proactive in addressing them, and more resilient in serving families.”
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CONTACT: Peter Anderson / Peter.Anderson@erie.gov
Phone: (716)858-8500 / Mobile: (716) 270-7842