Forum to put spotlight on child abuse awareness

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Erie County Child Protective Services is putting the spotlight on child abuse awareness. The agency is hosting a community forum on the topic Wednesday, just one day after the latest push for statewide CPS reform.

Their plan includes 19 different reforms. To start with, a single instance of excessive corporal punishment will now be enough to presume neglect. So would any child that tests positive for a controlled substance at birth. Endangering the welfare of a child will become a class D felony. Right now it’s only considered a misdemeanor. Under the proposed reforms, officials will create a civil penalty for making false allegations of abuse.

“Right now we have a system that is stacked against children.” Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said, “The reforms that we introduce today are vital in bringing New York State CPS into the 21st century and will aid in the investigation and prosecution of suspected abuse.”

Erie County Commissioner of Social Services Carol Dankert-Maurer said, “Our child protection system is often used as a way by individuals to harass others by knowingly making false reports, often part of a custody dispute with few repercussions. This takes time away from investigators who are trying to investigate legitimate reports.”

Wednesday’s meeting starts at noon at the Buffalo and Erie County Central Library. The Erie County Department of Social Services will talk about the consequences of child abuse from the perspective of both the health care and child welfare communities. It is open to the public.

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