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Reader Feedback 8.7.02


Investing in children

Thank you for providing more evidence that our elected officials do not care about children until they are old enough to lock up ("No Protection for Child Protectors," July 17).

                  Most of us are aware that abused children are much more likely to become runaways, criminals, and suffer from drug addiction and mental illness. Most of us would consider child abuse to be a public health and safety issue. Therefore, a logical investment in public health and safety is to generously support Child Protective Services in their crucial work helping abused children before they tax our public health and safety resources.

                  But an aversion to being proactive is not limited to county elected officials. Our state elected officials this year declined to pass Assembly bill A10636 and Senate bills S6693 and S7185. These bills would have set up demonstration systems in which CPS workers increase efforts to help families before they hit the crisis point.

                  States with similar programs have seen a drop in the need for foster-care placement and also lower turnover for CPS workers. Obviously, this would bring even greater long-term financial savings.

                  New York's record for funding programs that prevent child abuse and family dissolution is even worse: less than 10 percent of New York's children in greatest need of these services have access to them. Indeed, the federal government spends one penny on child-abuse prevention for every dollar it spends treating its effects with foster care and (you guessed it) public health and safety funds.

                  Viewing children as "narrowly targeted constituencies" who don't deserve every opportunity we can provide is expensive in both money and human potential. It is the duty of all of us who care about children and who grasp the logic involved in child-abuse prevention to enlighten our elected officials.

                  Melanie Daniel, Prevent Child Abuse NY, Henrietta

Cuts hurt children

The Monroe County Department of Social Services is beginning to undergo changes that will affect many. Due to the deficit in the county budget, the DSS is operating with a hiring freeze. These changes are the result of a decade without tax increases.

                  Positions from preventative services, including day care and foster care, will be decreased. This will occur through employee shifts to different departments or layoffs.

                  DSS employees will be encouraged to take early retirement. Those retiring will include many with the most experience, creating leadership vacancies, and it will take away a knowledge base that will be difficult to replace.

                  Impending layoffs will further reduce our county's services to children and families. This will not only increase Monroe County's number of unemployed, but DSS clients with children will be placed greatly at risk.

                  The DSS Preventative Program is already shifting employees to the Investigative Unit. As a school social worker, I know professionally the value of Preventative caseworkers. Preventative services are like preventive medicine. We all try to eat healthy foods and exercise to avoid developing chronic illnesses. Preventative caseworkers assist families when they are most at risk.

                  Preventatives supply short-term interventions to help families through a crisis and allow them to get back to their pre-crisis state. I am afraid that many parents will suffer as children are removed from their care due to child abuse and/or neglect. The message that will be sent to our inner-city parents will shatter whatever self worth exists and cause a further setback.

                  It will also place a further burden on our foster care and Family Court systems. There is already a shortage of foster care homes in which to place removed children, and the Family Court dockets are bursting at the seams. Also at risk of potential cutbacks are other Monroe County agencies that provide child and family preventative services.

                  I am appealing to our local politicians to think these decisions over very carefully. Please do whatever you can to resist chiseling away at an already bare-minimum workforce. Please see that these services remain in place and show DSS employees and young inner-city families that our county does care about their future.

                  Marjorie Beldue, Spencerport

Park pleasures

Regarding Stephanie Gradinger's comments about the Manhattan Square Park concerts ("Prohibition in the Park," Metro Ink, July 24):

                  In the beginning, prior to "the vendor" taking over the free concerts in the park --- and now the concerts at the Public Market --- you could go to the park with your picnic dinner and listen to the free music. It was one of the highlights of the summer. You could also purchase different food and drink from different vendors, and people did.

                  Now that the city has brokered with "the vendor" to serve at these venues, the parks and market are now apparently not ours, but his. We are held hostage to "the vendor's" food and drink. Not content with barricading the stage area, he has now erected fences around pretty much the whole park. It would be a truly devastating thing if one less beer or one less sandwich were sold because someone brought in their own food or drink to a public park we support with our city taxes.

                  Ms. Gradinger can delude herself into believing it protects his liquor license and prevents possible lawsuits, but I believe "the vendor" has given the city an ultimatum: it's my way or the highway. Personally, the highway was a much more pleasurable way to spend a summer evening.

                  Candice Rogers, Harper Street, Rochester

Caesar's ghost

Here is something I found surfing the web. In the midst of the patriotic fervor gripping the country, I think it is appropriate. It is attributed to Julius Caesar.

                  "Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind.

                  "And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader and gladly so.

                  "How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am Caesar."

                  Dale Carselli, Brockport

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