Immediate Release

Monday, March 12, 2007 

For Information Contact

798-5800

Picente Announces New Funding, Partnership

to Protect Region’s Children
 

Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente today announced new funding to bolster Oneida County ’s efforts to protect children from abuse.  Picente also announced that Oneida County is seeking to partner with Madison County to develop a regional partnership that can review child fatalities as a step toward increasing protection for all children.

Picente said: “We have an obligation to our children to protect them and to see that those who prey on them and take their innocence are punished to the full extent of the law. The Oneida County Child Advocacy Center is a leader in inter-disciplinary partnerships that help our children. The funding that is being received from the state Office of Children and Family Services will help us protect our children by providing better services and increased training.”

Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara said: “The Oneida County District Attorney’s Office is committed to prosecuting those who abuse children. The work of the Child Advocacy Center is crucial in helping my office work to protect our children by ensuring that those who abuse them are prosecuted and convicted. Our partnership with the CAC is working to make our county a safer place for our children.”

 Picente said the partnership with Madison County will call for Oneida County to work with Madison County to set up a Child Fatality Review Team that will investigate the deaths of children to help develop intervention programs.

“I want to thank Madison County for being aggressive in its efforts to work with us and to replicate the outstanding work being done by the Oneida County Child Fatality Review Team,” Picente said. “Helping children is an effort that knows no boundaries, and we are optimistic that the partnership we are developing can be enhanced by state funding that will help Madison County build and launch its team.”


Oneida County Child Advocacy Center Funding

Oneida County ’s Child Advocacy Center is the outgrowth of collaborative efforts that began in 1989 to address child sexual abuse. Located on the grounds of the former Utica Psychiatric Center on York Street in Utica , the Oneida County Child Advocacy Center  houses a multi-disciplinary group of professionals including Social Services caseworkers, law enforcement, victim advocates, medical personnel and therapists. The Center conducts joint investigations and provides support services to children suspected of having been sexually abused. The Child Advocacy Center also works in conjunction with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to assist in searching for missing children locally and nationally.

Oneida County is a leader in our efforts to protect children from abuse,” Picente said, crediting CAC Co-Directors Kevin Revere and Lisa Provost and their staff for outstanding work to serve Oneida County ’s children. “The Child Advocacy Center is a unique model that brings together many partners to maximize the safety and welfare of our children and help provide the basis needed for prosecuting anyone who hurts a child. Long before other communities were worried about protecting children from sex offenders, Oneida County developed a partnership to help victims of child sex abuse and punish offenders.”

Revere said the CAC is receiving $165,943 in grant funds from the state that will:

Upgrade staff efforts: In addition to funds that will continue to provide the services of a forensic interviewer and a community educator, both very successful programs, the grant funding will allow the CAC to add a temporary administrative assistant and a case tracking specialist to streamline data entry, report generation, statistical retrieval from the case tracking database and enhance quality control. 

Upgrade training facility: The CAC has a 70-seat training center that has been utilized by many agencies, including local and federal law enforcement, OCFS Regional Office, service providers, Internet Crimes Against Children, NCMEC, DSS, the Oneida County District Attorney’s Office, and for a variety of trainings hosted by the CAC on the topic of child abuse.  The grant will enable the CAC to upgrade the training facility, expand its availability to agencies, and meet the technological needs it faces.

Upgrade facilities for children: A separate, dedicated room for child interview observation will be renovated and equipped.  The front entrance foyer will also receive a much need face lift that will instill a child friendly greeting for children and family members upon entering the CAC.

Increased staff training: Revere noted that Oneida County is a leader in serving children, and keeps CAC staff up to date on the latest training to increase the CAC’s ability to protect children. Because team members come from many backgrounds, training is essential to ensure that all disciplines are cross-trained in order to appreciate the challenges each team member faces.

Expand Child Fatality Review Team Efforts

            Picente said that Oneida County is also seeking $91,716 from the state for enhancement of the Oneida County Child Fatality Review Team and establishment of a similar program in Madison County .

“We are collaborating for the sake of the children,” Picente said. “When there is a tragedy and a child dies under any suspicious circumstances, we need to investigate the case to determine how we can respond either through the legal system, if necessary, or through pro-active efforts to educate parents and care-givers.”

Robert Ingalls, Oneida County Child Fatality Review Team Coordinator, said that the project calls for Oneida County 's Program (first established in 2000) will be enhanced by computer equipment, training, and child death research over the 18-month period. During the same period, a Child Fatality Review Team would be established in Madison County through the cooperation and counsel of the Madison County Department of Social Services. 

Ingalls noted the outstanding collaboration of Madison County Board of Supervisors Chairman Rocco DiVeronica, Madison County Social Services Commissioner Michael Fitzgerald and Oneida County Social Services Commissioner Lucile Soldato worked together.

“The death of a child is something that is a major event in a community and is a marker of the overall health and well-being of children in a community,” Ingalls said. “By giving these tragedies a review from many perspectives, we hope to make an appropriate response.” For example, in Oneida County , a Safe-Sleep Program was launched in December 2006 as the result of Oneida County 's CFRT.

Various disciplines will be represented on each county's team, including District Attorney, Sheriff, State, city and local police, Health Departments, Office of Emergency Medical Services, Social Services Child Protective Services, Coroners, representatives from the New York State Office of Children and Family Services as well as private pediatric physicians.

            “We hope that New York State will look favorably on our effort to increase the protection and care we provide to our children,” Picente said. “The state has been an outstanding partner in all of our efforts to serve children, and we look forward to taking that partnership to a higher level through this new effort.”