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Community plan needed to help keep children safe

In the wake of the most recent horrific child murder by the child’s parent, we need to pour on support for our social services leader, Commissioner Carol Dankert-Maurer, and her Child Protection and entire Children’s Services team. We, the community, both professional helpers and regular citizens, must stand ready to do whatever it takes to help them keep children safe.

We need a community plan for early, accurate identification of high-risk children and families and an array of gap-closing strategies to wrap around the family when CPS has been called in through the Albany Child Abuse Hotline. Each high-risk family needs a well-coordinated, ongoing support team in place as fast as possible to prevent a family’s slide into actual or more serious maltreatment of a child. Everyone on this team needs to know the game plan and when the protection of the child, like a baton in a relay race, has been passed to them.

CPS has become the perceived and de facto “front door” for needed services for at-risk children and families, but in fact, the child and his parents need the help of many systems, such as mental health, plus all our help to provide for what these families need to keep their children safe. They need the eyes and ears and help of the community.

As chairwoman of WECAN (WNY Ending Child Abuse and Neglect), I’d be glad to take your call to lend a hand. Call the Family Help Center’s Helpline at 892-2172.

Deborah A. Merrifield

Executive Director

Family Help Center

Buffalo