Child Advocacy Center Annual Meeting To Focus On Newborn Opioid Dependence

OSWEGO – With its mission of protecting all children in Oswego County the Child Advocacy Center of Oswego County is constantly monitoring the driving factors behind physical and sexual abuse and premature, preventable deaths of children.

Over the past year the staff of the Child Advocacy Center has noticed an alarming trend that is victimizing children even before they are born – opioid dependence.

Dr. Michelle Bode
Dr. Michelle Bode

The increased use of prescription painkillers such as codeine, hydrocodone and oxycodone, and to a lesser extent heroin, has led to an epidemic.

There was a significant increase in the number of newborns admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit for drug withdrawal and drug use contributed to at least 1 death of a newborn last year.

“Those are very troubling conditions for children,” said CAC Executive Director Karrie Damm.  “The prevalence of these opioid drugs presents unique challenges. Children born addicted to drugs need specialized medical attention, and for us as an agency, we need to raise awareness of this epidemic and educate women of the devastating effect these drugs may have on their unborn and living children.”

To that end the CAC will use its Annual Meeting and Presentation to the Community as a starting point.

To be held April 14 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the American Foundry, 246 W. Seneca St. in Oswego the event will feature a presentation from keynote speaker Dr. Michelle Bode, M.D. entitled Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome: The Increasing Epidemic.

Board certified in Pediatrics and Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine, Dr. Bode is the medical director of Clinical Informatics at Crouse Hospital in Syracuse and the attending neonatalogist with Neonatal Associates of Central New York.

A highly sought after speaker, Dr. Bode is recognized throughout the country for her expertise in the area of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome.

“Our hope is that Dr. Bode’s powerful and enlightening presentation will inspire community members to become engaged and join us in our efforts to raise awareness of this epidemic and help us eradicate Narcotics Abstinence Syndrome in Oswego County,” said Damm. “While many of those in our community are still struggling to imagine the frequency of physical and sexual abuse to children, the vast majority are likely to have no idea that the prospect of children born addicted to opioid drugs could be a problem in their community. We are pleased that Dr. Bode has taken the time to join us as the keynote speaker at our annual meeting.”

The CAC’s annual meeting also serves as the official kickoff to the agency’s 15th anniversary celebration.

Established with a mission to combat sexual and physical child abuse in Oswego County the CAC has brought consolation to thousands of children and their family members.

Over the past 15 years the care and concern of the CAC staff combined with the work of the agency’s Multi-Disciplinary Team, which is comprised of a cross-section of law enforcement investigators, child protective services, medical providers, therapeutic professionals, victim support professionals, the district attorney’s office, and other human services agencies  has produced remarkable results.

As part its 15th Anniversary celebration Damm said that the CAC will be sharing those results as well as recognizing the agency’s board members and volunteers, both past and present.

“We’ve been fortunate over the past 15 years in that we have received tremendous community support. The passion and dedication of board members and the tireless efforts of our volunteers has helped make the CAC the vibrant agency it is today. I extend a heartfelt invitation to all of our past board members and any community member that graciously lent their time and talents to the support of the CAC to join us and be a part of for our annual meeting,” Damm said.

From healing families and raising awareness of child abuse in Oswego County to successfully prosecuting abuse cases to enable long term safety for children, the CAC plays an important role in making Oswego County a better place to live.

“We’re proud of the work we have done here at the CAC, but more importantly we realize that our work is ongoing, said Damm. “We are unwavering in our mission to end child abuse and prevent child fatalities. We will continue to combat child abuse in its many forms and I invite community members to join us in our mission and help be the end of child abuse in Oswego County!”

Sponsored by Engel Law, Nelson Law Firm, and Gregory and Karen Oakes, the CAC’s Annual Meeting and Presentation to the Community is open to the public with a suggested donation of $20 which includes lunch.

For more information and to make reservations call the CAC office at 315-59CHILD (315-592-4453), register online at eventbrite.com, and follow the Oswego County Child Advocacy Center on Facebook.