Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano today announced that as a result of its innovative approaches in assuring fair and equal reporting, investigation and substantiation for maltreatment of children regardless of their racial and ethnic backgrounds, the New York State Office of Children and Family Services has selected the Nassau County Department of Social Services to present a statewide webinar on Monday, September 29th, at 2 PM entitled ‘Creating Better Outcomes for Child Welfare Cases’.
According to County Executive Mangano, “New York State has recognized Nassau County as being in the forefront of improving outcomes for children in the child welfare system. Since receiving one of the first statewide grants in 2010 to study the racial and cultural imbalances in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems, the State has recognized Nassau for implementing an innovative and multi-faceted approach to improving outcomes for all children.”
The innovative programs implemented in Nassau County include:
• The “Nassau 0-5 Babies Can’t Wait Project” in conjunction with Adelphi University and Chief Judge Edmund Dane of the Nassau County Family Court, which seeks to expedite the decision-making process of whether children can return to their biological families or whether to move forward with formal adoption;
• Serving as a pilot program with OCFS for educational stability;
• Enhancing recruitment efforts to insure multicultural representation throughout the Foster Care system
• Conducting “blind removal meetings,” which means allowing a decision to be made regarding the removal of children without any of the participants knowing any culturally or racially identifying information about the family. These removal meetings have added a heretofore unseen reduction in the percentage of children of children of color entering foster care in Nassau County.
According to DSS Commissioner Dr. John Imhof, “The State’s selection of Nassau County to present this webinar statewide concludes more than 5 years of painstaking efforts to correct the cultural imbalances that have for too long been inherent in the child welfare system. We believe all children should be treated fairly regardless of their cultural, racial and religious differences.”
As stated by DSS Director of Children and Family Services Maria Lauria, “In collaboration with Family Court and Adelphi University, we hope to better assist all child welfare systems in seeking to understand and eventually eradicate the contributing social, economic and organizational factors that have created the historical multicultural disparities in the child welfare system.”
Leading the State Webinar will be Nassau DSS Children and Family Services staff Sandra Benitez, Caseworker III; Gloria Wilkins, MSW, Case Supervisor II; and Maria Lauria, LMSW, Director of Children’s Services. For further information on the Webinar, please contact Nassau County DSS at 516-227-7759.