Lawmakers say they’re more frustrated than ever with Erie County Child Protective Services and want changes made that will prevent fatal cases of abuse.
Local leaders are speaking out one day after 3-year-old Mayouna Smith, who died from blunt force trauma to the abdomen was laid to rest.
The scrutiny began after the deaths of 5-year-old Eain Brooks and 10-year-old Abdi Mohamud. Both Buffalo children endured abuse and had some contact with CPS before they were killed.
Shortly after, County Legislator Betty Jean Grant submitted a resolution to reorganize and fund a Community Coordinating Council to advocate for children in the community.
“We have to prevent our children from being in harm’s way even if that’s protecting children from their own family,” she said.
But then earlier this month, 3-year-old Mayouna Smith was killed. An autopsy revealed in addition to how she died, the little suffered physical and sexual abuse. So far, there is no official word on whether CPS was ever called to look into her situation.
County Legislator Lynne Dixon said, “I understand there needs to be some privacy but there needs to be some transparency when you’re talking about little children and you’re talking about their lives.”
As chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, Dixon wants to take a closer look at CPS and enact further reform.
“We haven’t done a great job looking at CPS and really diving into the issues,” Dixon said.
But Legislator Grant says one group can’t fix it all. She hopes the Community Coordinating Council will bring together several agencies to take a broad look at the issue.
Grant said, “Regardless of whether she was in Child Protective Services or not, she was being abused and I think that if they had not been involved then someone should have been involved a long time ago.”
There is also a renewed effort on the state level to reform CPS. Senator Tim Kennedy and Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes are working to get legislation passed.