OSWEGO, NY – The STEP Taskforce has been collaborating to reduce domestic violence in three local school districts since 2011.
Recognizing Oswego County (ROC) has selected the Taskforce as Community Champion for the month of October as part of its focus on domestic violence.
“The work of the STEP Taskforce has been remarkable in getting diverse partners who have differing priorities to come together to help solve very serious challenges for our youth,” said ROC member Tammy Elowsky.
This program is funded by the Federal Office on Violence Against Women and was one of a handful of grants awarded around the country.
Housed under Oswego County Opportunities’ Crisis and Development Services, STEP (Services, Training, Education and Policies) brought a diverse group of stakeholders together to tackle the difficult topic of dating violence, stalking, sexual assault and domestic violence in schools.
Partners include staff from the Fulton, Oswego and Hannibal school districts, law enforcement and local services providers such as the Child Advocacy Center, SAF and Oswego Health.
One of the initial activities of the Taskforce was to conduct a community needs assessment, which included surveys of students and parents.
From these surveys, a strategic plan was developed to create an environment of offender accountability and victim support.
Eric Bresee, OCO director of Crisis & Development Services said, “One of the things we struggled with was the conflict between the NYS Department of Education requirements to provide equal access to education and the need to hold the offender accountable. In the situation where the offender and the victim had similar school schedules, it was a paradigm shift to focus on the victim in these cases and to agree to hold the victim harmless.”
As a result of implementing advocacy services in the three districts, procedural development approved by the Taskforce and the Office on Violence Against Women, education of administrators and critical school district staff, students can now access crisis services within their school community.
Teachers and school staff can reach out the Advocates for information and assistance if needed, and students are being provided with options to ensure they are supported as they navigate through the legal process.
“Having advocates in the districts is a huge resource and has resulted in many more young people coming forward for support,” said Bresee.
The STEP program recently ended its initial four-year grant period, but has received renewed funding to continue working in Fulton, Oswego and Hannibal and expand into the Pulaski school district.
They also plan to incorporate activities that focus on homeless and LGBTQ youth.
For more information about the STEP Program, call Christy King, OCO coordinator of Intervention Services, at 315-342-1544.
Recognizing Oswego County focuses on the positive efforts that are being made in the community.
Each month ROC uses this recognition effort as a platform for emphasizing the wonderful work that is happening in Oswego County to promote the health and wellness of children, families and adults.
A theme is selected each month and nominations for Community Champions are solicited.
For November, Recognizing Oswego County is seeking nominations in the area of Family Support for Children with Special Needs.
Nominations are due by November 10.
The nomination form is available on the “Recognizing Oswego County-ROC” Facebook page or by contacting [email protected]
ROC members include representatives from a broad range of community organizations as well as individual community members.
New members are welcome.
Monthly meetings are held from 8-9:15 a.m. on the second Thursday of each month at the Oswego County Federal Credit Union, 90 E. Bridge St.