Valley Viewpoints: Dollars and sense

by Marilyn Nye, DSS Case Worker (retired) Pennellville

I am a retired caseworker and it has come to my attention the commissioner of Oswego County Social Services has been forced to cut programs that will hurt children and their families and will likely put these families in danger.

Oswego County is poor and rural, which presents unique problems for Social Services to provide assistance to families. Their goal is to keep families together and function at a level that keeps children from being at risk of harm or being removed.

One of several agencies that have proven to be successful in providing services to assist families is the Youth Advocate Program. It’s delivery of services is to the entire family.

Most of the families accept the services willingly since it is a program designed to make changes within the family in a social atmosphere.

Families volunteer for the program and activities are designed to encourage participation. They also offer programs for children and parents to learn techniques on managing their anger, help with school problems (including truancy), provide work support, assist in family financial problems, and assist families in navigating other systems such as family court.

The Youth Advocate program staff goes to the homes of these families and either provides the service in the home or transports the child and or family to the event. This is essential, since many of the families live out in the country and many don’t have the transportation.

The Youth Advocate Program is cost effective, and has a long track record of proven success and it is the only program available to families 24 hours a day. No other program in Oswego County has the ability to meet the family at their level and work side-by-side with a family to affect positive change when the family needs it most.

Cuts are immediate and severe and will have a negative effect on families and the funding cuts will reduce the available services provided by county contracted agencies. The Youth Advocate Program alone has taken a 50 percent cut in funding in the past year.

Jobs are being lost and dedicated, trained individuals will be looking to other careers. It means the needed services will no longer be provided to the families who are most vulnerable and most in need, and those most capable individuals will no longer be there to provide the service.

If the Oswego County Legislature and Social Services want to keep families safe and intact they need to reconsider programs and reinstate the money needed to utilize services such as the Youth Advocate Program. This is about dollars and sense.

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