The Erie County Legislature’s Republican-aligned majority this afternoon stalled on a plan to hire 37 new Child Protective Services workers, despite a general consensus that the workers are urgently needed to handle burgeoning caseloads.
That inaction was juxtaposed, during the same Legislative session, with lawmakers’ unanimous approval of a $5 million road repair plan that includes hiring 10 additional workers in the county’s Highway Division.
Democratic critics said it showed that lawmakers in the majority caucus might care more about roads than protecting the lives of endangered children across the county.
“We sent over a ‘blank placeholder,’” said County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz, referring to the road repair plan. “They just approved it without any discussion.”
“It makes me wonder whether they’re prioritizing roads and potholes over protecting children. I certainly hope not, because if that’s the case, it sends a really bad message to the people of this community,” Poloncarz added during a news conference following today’s Legislature session.
At an earlier news conference following the session, Legislature Chairman John Mills, R-Orchard Park, said the majority caucus was not about to provide the administration with a blank check without having answers to their questions about Social Services Commissioner Carol Dankert-Maurer’s plan.
The majority caucus has been highly-critical of Dankert-Mauer – with some calling for her resignation – in the wake of three deaths of children in families that CPS was monitoring.
The most recent death occurred on May 14, less than a year after additional CPS workers and supervisors were hired last fall.
“We don’t believe in blank checks. We’ve got to vet this thing just like we did with the road projects,” said Mills.