OSWEGO, NY â€“ There has been an increase of possible abuse calls coming into the countyâ€™s Department of Social Services this summer.
Fran Lanigan, commissioner of Social Services, offered an update on child protective services and the status of the advisory council.
â€œWe are seeing a significant increase in the state central registry reports. We continue to see increased numbers of reports through the state central registry coming to our door,â€ she said.
Reports for the first seven months of the year are ahead of last yearâ€™s reporting levels.
â€œWe are projecting more than 3,000 reports for the year if the pace of reports continues at this level. Last year we ended with 2,757,â€ Lanigan said. â€œThis is a 9.4 percent increase over 2009 and a 31.5 percent increase over the last two years. Weâ€™re averaging about 251 reports a month, thatâ€™s pretty significant.â€
The department has also continued to deal with staff turnover, she added.
â€œStaff turnover at all levels has left us with a much less experienced crew. A new director of services, CPS supervisor, new senior casework and casework staff have meant a significant amount of time is spent in training and supervision,â€ she pointed out.
The goal for the department is for the caseworkers to carry about 12 cases a month.
â€œI probably have over 50 percent of the workers who are carrying more than 15 cases,â€ the commissioner said. â€œThey are getting seven or eight new cases a month instead of the six that we targeted.â€
The group of new caseworkers hired last year have bonded and are working as a team, she said.
Recently, as a gesture of appreciation, at their one-year mark, they brought goodies as a thank you for the senior staff and others for mentoring them and helping them get through.
â€œI thought that was a wonderful testament to the spirit and positive energy within the department,â€ Lanigan said.
The recently formed Child Protection Advisory Council has identified three focus areas to meet its mission statement (To lead coordinated community efforts to improve the prevention of and response to child abuse and neglect in Oswego County).
The areas are:
Community awareness and education
Prevention â€“ early intervention
The group meets on a monthly basis.
Its next meeting is scheduled for Sept. 23.
â€œThe council has been getting educated itself and learning about the process and defining its direction,â€ according to Legislator Jack Proud, chair of the countyâ€™s health and human services committee. â€œThe council will develop task forces to work on specific areas.â€
They are a very competent group and will begin extending out into the entire public once they identify target areas, develop respective teams to research and examine those target areas, he added.