Schumer To Push Legislation Aimed At Preventing Another Erin Maxwell Case

<p>Erin Maxwell</p>
Erin Maxwell

U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today will unveil legislation that he hopes will help prevent another case like the death of Erin Maxwell.

Schumer will discuss the “Erin Maxwell Memorial Grant Program” during a stop in Syracuse. He will also be in Oswego today, campaigning at the Port of Oswego with Democratic candidate for Congress Bill Owens.

Maxwell, 11, died in a rundown Palermo farmhouse last year. The home stank of animal wastes, as more than 50 cats lived in the home. Maxwell’s bedroom had two doors and both had locks on the outside. Her father and stepmother, Lindsey and Lynn Maxwell, are serving up to two years in jail after their convictions for endangering the child’s welfare. Erin’s stepbrother, Alan Jones, will soon be sentenced to prison for murdering Erin while the parents were shopping at Walmart.

Schumer’s plan would provide federal grants to social services agencies so they can hire enough caseworkers to handle suspected cases of abuse or neglect. Schumer’s press release notes, “Despite three reports of abuse referred to the Oswego Country Department of Social Services and their knowledge of the deplorable living conditions, no effort was made to remove Erin from her home or adequately monitor her situation.”

Critics charged that the county Social Services department failed to protect Erin from obvious harm. An independent report prepared by Cornell University found no fault with the county but noted that job cuts have left caseworkers handling too many cases. County lawmakers recently approved money to hire more caseworkers. Schumer is expected to say that the hiring of more caseworkers is the right thing to do, but agencies need more help than local taxpayers alone can provide.

Schumer’s measure, to be introduced in Congress as a bill, would require agencies to keep records of all abuse claims and bring the matter to police when two complaints have been made in a six month period. Agencies will have to conduct monthly visits and create a long-term plan for working with community, private and public agencies.


  1. Schumer is an idiot. Throw more money at the problems and they’ll go away, right? WRONG. The laws regarding what DSS can and cannot do and for what reasons need to change. Those laws need to change so that in situations such as Erin Maxwell’s life she could have been taken away to a safe, healthy environment.

    For example:
    When inspecting a house for safety, cleanliness and food in neglect allegations, families must be given notice, and the minimum standards the state dictates must be met are below most people’s standards as well as that which is considered to provide a nurturing environment to aid in healthy physical, emotional and cognitive development. I don’t understand how the state lawmakers miss that whole hierarchy of needs that children must have met in order to grow up emotionally, physically and cognitively healthy. They are ridiculous. Of course someone will clean up and do other things to meet the state’s minimum standards of care. They have higher requirements for care, discipline and development for foster parenting than they do for biological parents. How is that possible? A box of macaroni in the cupboard, a mattress on the floor, and no access to soap and water are not nurturing behaviors. Children coming to school filthy and smelling every day are not being nurtured OR taken care of. Emotionally, just going to school in that manner is flat out cruel. What toll do you suppose it takes on a child to be picked on, laughed at and made fun of on a daily basis for something they have no control over? Giving parents chance after chance to change their lifestyles, habits or whatever? Crazy idea. Other states have a three strikes and you’re out policy, then you LOSE your parental rights or have to prove for more than just a month or two you have gotten your act together! At what point does a parent’s rights to keep their child with them stop superceding the needs of the child? I am not talking about the occasional person that gets investigated because their child is clumsy and falls all the time…I am talking about the folks who keep all our DSS workers in secure jobs by being reported over and over again. I know there are going to be people who have been reported and the reports have been unsubstantiated. I know there are people who have actually lost their children through reporting that was inaccurate or due to vigilante workers, and for those people I am sorry. However, if you take a look at all the children in placement today, and the increasing numbers of them as well as the fact that they will leave placement and go back to their original behaviors, it is obvious that staying in a non-nurturing environment has long term negative effects on a child that stays with them into adulthood. And then guess what? They become adults with children that they neglect or abuse. Stop the cycle folks!! We need to step up and force the laws to change to protect children at a much younger age so they have SOME chance of attaining a healthy adulthood. Kelly Harris

  2. This makes me TOTALLY SICK!!!!!! My two children were removed from my home because I was told I was neglectful as a mother! Due to the fact I worked 12 hrs. a day to support them. Their father didn’t pay support- somehow he always seemed to evade this!! C.P.S. thought nothing about taking my children out of a home where they were cared for, clean, in school daily ect.. I was told because I worked 12 hrs. a day, that I didn’t spend ample time with them!!!! Can anyone imagine this??? The court proceedings started out to be accusations of abuse- when this could not be proven, the court was NOT going to lose!!!! You SICK entity!!!! If I could mention names ….I WOULD!!!!!! However, the judge is no longer family court judge in Oswego County!!!!! HURRAY!!!!!!!! GUESS WHO??????

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