April 27, 2010
Working Together To Protect Our Children and Families
Every child is important and should be kept safe. Child abuse and neglect is a community problem and preventing it is a community responsibility. Success depends on the involvement of each and every one of us as citizens of this county.
Earlier this month, the Oswego County Legislature joined communities across the nation and proclaimed April as Child Abuse Prevention Month. Public education and community participation are essential, if we are to meet our goal of protecting our children and families.
Child abuse and neglect not only directly harm children, but also increase the likelihood of long-term physical and mental health problems, alcohol and substance abuse, prolonged family violence and criminal behavior.
The majority of these cases stem from conditions that are preventable in engaged and supportive families and communities. Together, we can work to make sure that every family has the support they need to raise their children in a safe and nurturing environment.
Child abuse prevention programs are most effective if there are working partnerships between social service agencies, schools, law enforcement agencies, medical providers and faith communities.
To reinforce our commitment to child protection, the Oswego County Legislature established the Oswego County Child Protection Advisory Council in March and appointed its first members.
The council includes education, law enforcement and medical services professionals, services providers and child and family development specialists, and parents, foster parents and guardians.
Members include: Council Chair Marshall Marshall, superintendent of Pulaski Academy and Central Schools, Council Vice Chair Father John Canorro, pastor of St. Anne Mother of Mary Church in Mexico, Stewart Amell, superintendent of Sandy Creek Central Schools, Geri Geitner, director of support services for Fulton City Schools, and Michael Eiffe, principal of the Cleveland Elementary School.
Ann Gilpin, CEO of Oswego Health, Inc., Orlo A. Green III, Chief of Police of the City of Fulton, Diane Cooper-Currier, executive director of Oswego County Opportunities, Jodi W. Mullen, director of Integrative Counseling and SUNY Oswego professor, and Melanie Trexler, executive director of the United Way of Oswego County will also be serving on the council.
Dr. Dennis Mullaney, a Lockport physician, Corte Spencer, former CEO of Oswego Health Inc., Stacey Austin, interim director of the Child Advocacy Center in Fulton, Jeffrey Grimshaw, assistant director of the SUNY Oswego SUNY Oswego Center for Business and Community Relations, Melissa Parkhurst, an Oswego foster parent, and Mary Felasco, a Fulton attorney are also members of the council.
Serving as non-voting members to the council are Oswego County Department of Social Services Commissioner Frances Lanigan, Oswego County Public Health Director Dr. Dennis Norfleet, Oswego County Youth Bureau Director Kathleen Fenlon, and Oswego County District Attorney Donald Dodd.
The council will assist the department of social services in the development of a child and family services plan. It will also help to identify and utilize community resources and provide outreach activities for public education. Other duties include advisement and advocacy for the well-being and protection of Oswego County children and their families.
Community participation is vital in providing child- and family-centered services to the residents of our county. This council will help to open the lines of communication within our communities and encourage cooperative child protection efforts.
If you suspect abuse or maltreatment of a child, make a report immediately by calling the New York Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment. The toll-free number is 1-800-342-3720. The line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you spot an emergency, such as a child currently left alone or in imminent danger, call 911 because they are able to respond to the situation immediately.
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