Advocates call for more preventative programming in CPS

Nov 13, 2017

Credit Caitlin Whyte / WXXI News

Advocates from a variety of backgrounds gathered Monday morning asking Monroe County to restore funding for preventative child abuse programming.

Faith leaders, doctors and leaders of local children’s advocacy groups say while they are grateful for the eight point plan to increase CPS introduced by the county in early October, they would like to see more programming that keeps families out of the system all together.

Dave Topa, a doctor with Pittsford Pediatrics says Monroe County is in a child abuse crisis, partly due to what he calls toxic stress.

"Over the past few years we have seen increases in the amount of financial and emotional stress endured by the families of our patients. We spend more time than ever addressing anxiety, depression and school issues that result from this increased level of stress."

Policy and Advocacy Director at The Children's Agenda, Brigit Hurley said she is passionate about preventing these problems that can become a crisis.

"It’s important for families to have that support, I know when I had children I had a lot of support around me and I know that some parents don’t, so these programs are really important."

Those programs includes family therapy, a focus on maternal depression and nurse-family partnerships.

"Where a pregnant mom or a family with young children receives visits from a nurse or a community partner. They work with the parents on things like how to handle stress, how to deal with sleep issues, health issues, making sure the child has immunizations."

They also work with parents, Hurley says to make a plan for their life as well; such as getting high school diplomas or college degrees.

Advocates says since 2014, $1.7 million has been cut from the child abuse preventative programming in Monroe County and they are asking for that funding to be restored in the 2018 budget which will be released Tuesday.

Jesse Sleezer, spokesperson for Monroe County sent WXXI News a statement in response:

"County Executive Dinolfo looks forward to presenting a balanced, flat-tax budget tomorrow that invests more than $500 million in services for children and families, representing over 40% of the county's annual operating spending. Included in that sum, the County will invest $1.7 million more in preventive programming for children in 2018 - a decision made well before today's announcement by the Children’s Agenda.”