Family Counseling Services (FCS), in collaboration with the Cortland County Department of Social Services (DSS) and the Madison County DSS, has received two grants totaling $160,748 for a two-year project that will focus on child abuse prevention and treatment. The project will allow a behavioral health clinician to support the work of Child Protective Services (CPS) staff by working alongside caseworkers in order to identify and support the behavioral health needs of both the adults and children in families involved in child protective services. A part-time behavioral health clinician from FCS will be co-located onsite at DSS in both Cortland and Madison counties. The grants were awarded by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS).
Cortland County Commissioner of Social Services Kristen Monroe stated, “We are most excited about the opportunity this grant provides to connect families with behavioral health needs to services in new ways. We are hopeful that some families who might not access traditional outpatient services can be engaged by reaching out to them in their homes when they are in crisis and more likely to accept the help. Family Counseling Services has been a great community partner and we look forward to learning new and better ways to support our families with them through this project.”
“Madison County DSS is very pleased to have been chosen to participate in this program with FCS. The funding was extremely competitive with only ten counties in the State chosen. With the incidence of substance abuse and child neglect increasing in the County, this grant will help provide needed services to keep children safe,” according to DSS Commissioner Michael Fitzgerald.
As part of this project, FCS will work with both counties to develop a training program to help educate and train caseworkers to identify and support the behavioral health needs of both the adults and children in families involved in Child Protective Services. The behavioral health clinicians will accompany CPS caseworkers in the field to visit with identified families and/or provide direct consultation with CPS caseworkers regarding families who might benefit from behavioral health services. Additionally, the behavioral health clinicians will learn how CPS assesses child risk and safety in order to assist in developing effective ways of sharing behavioral health information to support that process.
“Our three agencies already work well together and this is an exciting opportunity to collaborate more closely to support children and families,” stated FCS Executive Director Lisa Hoeschele. “This collaboration compliments our current work in our school-based mental health clinics, our clinic in Oneida and with the Cortland County Child Advocacy Center.”
Both counties have recognized the need for a comprehensive approach to assist individuals and families struggling with mental health issues, alcohol, and substance abuse. In particular, CPS caseworkers have seen evidence of these issues among primary caregivers thus creating a conflict when trying to preserve families and protect children. The 2013 Risk Assessment Profile report compiled by OCFS indicates that in Cortland and Madison counties, 49% of the families with an investigated report had a primary and/or secondary caretaker with risk factors of alcohol, drug and/or mental health problems, placing both among the top 10 counties with the highest incidences in the State. This figure places the two counties significantly higher than the statewide figure of 29%.
For families at risk of child abuse and neglect, this project has the potential to expand the number who are supported in accessing and receiving services necessary to preserve families and protect children. The grants also present an opportunity for improved data collection through a collaborative effort between DSS and community service providers, including Family Counseling Services. The project will launch in June 2015. Throughout the two-year project, emphasis will be placed upon developing DSS procedures, resources and caseworker skills that ensure behavioral health expertise is sustained in the districts once state funding ends.
You can learn more about child abuse prevention and treatment at:
To report suspected child abuse or neglect, call the New York State Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-342-3720
If you believe that a child is in immediate danger, call 911 or your local police department.