OSWEGO, NY – The Oswego County Child Protection Advisory Council will host two more community forums to provide opportunities for citizens to share their views and develop ideas for preventing child abuse in the county.
The council, which was appointed last year by the Oswego County Legislature, has organized a series of meetings to help people better understand the structure of the child protective system and the importance of individuals reporting suspicions of child neglect or abuse.
“The Oswego County Legislature appointed the Child Protection Advisory Council to help strengthen families and to protect the safety of children living in Oswego County,” said County Legislator John Proud, District 7, Mexico, chairman of the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee. “The majority of child abuse cases stem from situations and conditions that are preventable in an aware and supportive community. As a retired teacher and school principal, I speak from experience when I say that community awareness and personal responsibility are key in helping to prevent child abuse and neglect.”
The council has adopted the motto, “Our Children, Our County, Our Future – Our Responsibility.”
Community forums will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. April 28 at the Fulton Municipal Building, 141 S. First St., Fulton; and May 3 at the Millard Hawk Primary School cafeteria, Central Square.
Anyone who is concerned about child protection is welcome to attend.
“Many factors — including parent frustration, poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, and isolation from the community – contribute to child abuse. April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and we are taking this opportunity to raise awareness and have some dialogue around the county on the important role that individuals can take if they suspect that a child is being abused or neglected,” said Dr. Marshall Marshall, chairman of the Child Protection Advisory Council and superintendent of the Pulaski Central School District.
Other council members are Stewart Amell, superintendent of the Sandy Creek School District; Karrie Damm, director of the Child Advocacy Center; Rev. John Canorro, pastor of St. Anne, Mother of Mary Catholic Church; Diane Cooper-Currier, executive director of Oswego County Opportunities; Michael Eiffe, principal of Cleveland Elementary School; attorney Mary Felasco; Geri Geitner, director of student support services, Fulton City School District; Ann Gilpin, president and CEO of Oswego Health; Orlo A. Green III, chief of police, Fulton Police Department; Jeff Grimshaw, director of the SUNY Oswego Office of Business and Community Relations; Dr. Dennis Mullaney, emergency room physician; Dr. Jodi Mullen, SUNY Oswego professor and director of Integrative Counseling; Melissa Parkhurst, foster parent; Corte Spencer, retired executive, Oswego Health; and Melanie Trexler, executive director, United Way of Oswego County.
Commissioner of Social Services Frances Lanigan, Director of Services Gregg Heffner, Dr. Dennis Norfleet, Oswego County Public Health Director, Kathleen Fenlon, director of the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau, and District Attorney Donald Dodd are ex-officio members.
“Child abuse and neglect can be reduced by making sure that each family member has the support they need in raising their children in a safe, nurturing environment,” said Legislator Proud. “Effective child abuse prevention programs succeed because of partnerships created among social service agencies, schools, faith communities, civic organizations law enforcement agencies, and the business community. We all need to get involved, communicate, and cooperate with each other if we are going to overcome the causes of child abuse.”
The Legislature’s Health and Human Services has local oversight of the Department of Social Services.
Other members are vice chairman Jacob Mulcahey, District 15; Barbara Brown, District 8; James Karasek, District 22; Margaret Kastler, District 1; Ron Sakonyi, District 5; and Terry Wilbur, District 21.
Anyone suspecting abuse or maltreatment should report it to the NYS toll free hotline at 1-800-342-3720.
If you think a child is in immediate danger, call 911 or the local police department.