Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo has announced a number of changes to enhance the Child Protective Services agency.
The changes come just days after a conviction in connection with the death of 3 year old Brook Stagles.
The Monroe County Commissioner of Human Services Corinda Crossdale has released new information regarding the county's involvement in the case of Brook Stagles.
Crossdale says two separate reports were made weeks before Stagles' death in November 2016. One alleging maltreatment of Brook by her biological mother, and another alleging maltreatment by her biological father.
CPS performed safety assessments and home visits following both calls and the caseworker determined that Stagles presented as happy and healthy, and positively interacted with her family.
Crossdale said extreme circumstances have to be in place for a child to be removed.
"Often times what may appear to you and I as an abnormal living situation subjectively, it may not be enough to rise to the level of impending danger or serious harm under relevant state law or regulations."
The commissioner also said at the time of assignment, Stagles caseworker carried a load of less than 20 cases, and had approximately three years of experience, as well as a supervisor with over 10 years of experience.
Crossdale encouraged the community to stay vigilant in reporting any child abuse to caseworkers.
"They are only as effective as the information they are given. I think this could be a call to action. If you see something, say something."
Following Crossdale, Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo announced an eight point plan to enhance CPS.
The plan includes a mentoring program for caseworkers offering job training and peer encouragement, as well as the reopening of a local child abuse and maltreatment hotline that closed in 2015.
The 2018 county budget will also have funding for 30 new caseworker positions, on top of any vacancies that currently need filling.
This is the 8-point plan released by the County Executive:
1. Dinolfo’s 2018 County Budget will reflect funding for 30 new CPS Caseworker positions. The net addition of 30 Caseworkers will bring total CPS staffing back above 2010 levels.
2. The 2018 Budget will also include an upgrade to the CPS Caseworker salary schedule. This increase in compensation will complement existing recruitment and retention efforts.
3. Handheld smart tablets will be made available to all CPS Caseworkers in the field to reduce red tape and paperwork. The tablets will connect directly to CPS’s case management hub.
4. A local Child Abuse and Maltreatment Hotline will be reestablished. The local hotline was closed in 2015. A local hotline allows for better vetting of vital reports made to CPS.
5. The Monroe County Department of Human Services will conduct a comprehensive review of state laws, regulations and guidelines that govern CPS casework.
6. A new CPS Mentoring Program will be launched in 2018. It will include professional best practices, promote positive peer encouragement, and offer continued on the job training.
7. The Monroe County Department of Human Services will collaborate with a trusted community partner to develop a CPS recruitment and retention public marketing campaign.
8. A CPS Staff Development Coordinator will be assigned to also function as a Recruitment Coordinator, with a goal of helping CPS recruits move from application to employment.