Child’s murder leads to call for head of Social Services’ ouster

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - The case surrounding a Buffalo mother, who’s accused of murdering her little boy, has taken a new turn: the caseworker assigned to Jessica Murphy and her son Jacob Noe, 8, has been fired, but sources say the termination was unrelated to the boy’s death.

In the wake of that murder, and other recent tragedies, two key county lawmakers are calling for the removal of the department head responsible for protecting children.

Legislature Majority Leader Joseph Lorigo and Lynne Dixon (I-Hamburg) say it is time for Social Services Commissioner Carol Dankert-Maurer to go. DSS manages Child Protective Services (CPS), and Protection Services for Adults (PSA).

“This is the fourth child that has passed away that should have been in the care of CPS over the past several years, and enough is enough,” announced Lorigo, after learning CPS failed Jacob and his mother, who is now charged with his murder.

Dankert-Maurer and County Executive Mark Poloncarz have been overhauling the department, specifically in the the areas of Child Protective Services and Adult Protection. Poloncarz revealed in a written statement, there have been 33 disciplinary actions of DSS workers, in the last 12 months, including 5 terminations and 9 suspensions.

The caseworker assigned to Jessica Murphy and her son had already been removed from the Murphy case, and suspended without pay before Jacob’s death. Poloncarz wrote in his statement, referring to “a worker involved in a recent case”, that the worker had received, “a number of lesser disciplinary actions, was suspended without pay prior to the death of the child for failing to meet the standards of the department in several cases.”

Lorigo says Poloncarz and Dankert-Maurer chose to hire more managers last fall, while Republicans in the legislature called for more field staff and that, says Lorigo, led to tragic consequences, “The Administration and the Democratic Majority chose to add three high level managers, and not the additional caseworkers that we were requesting. I don’t think that we need additional management, I think we need new management, and that is why it is time for the commissioner to go.”

Poloncarz says the Jacob’s case was re-assigned to another caseworker, who was scheduled to meet with the boy and his mother, but, “Tragically the child was murdered by his mother in the early morning hours of the day the visit was scheduled”.

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