Oneida County Raises Awareness of Child Abuse

Pinwheels Placed, Caseworkers Recognized & Building Goes Blue

UTICA — Oneida County is raising awareness all April long in recognition of National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Today, Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. was joined by other county and advocacy officials in placing “Pinwheels for Prevention” on the grounds of the Oneida County Child Advocacy Center in Utica.

“Protecting the children of this community is always on the forefront of what we as a county do each and every day,” Picente said. “We have armed our Department of Social Services child welfare staff with the tools they need to successfully safeguard our most vulnerable population, including providing them with increased and innovative training and security measures, supplying the newest technology and aggressively recruiting dozens of new caseworkers to join in the fight. Together with the Child Advocacy Center, the Sheriff’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office, local law enforcement and community partners such as the YWCA of the Mohawk Valley, we work diligently all year to not only raise awareness of child abuse, but to prevent its tragic occurrence and support victims and their families. ”

As part of the county’s child abuse awareness efforts, a breakfast will take place next week recognizing Child Protective Services caseworkers and staff for the work they do and the vital services they provide. The County Office Building in Utica has also been lit blue each night in support of child abuse prevention.

“Since 2009, Oneida County Child Protective Services has received more than 4,000 reports of abuse and neglect per year,” said Oneida County Department of Social Services Commissioner Colleen Fahy-Box. “Our staff works tirelessly to investigate these occurrences and keep our children safe. Creating awareness of child abuse is critical to the safety of all children, as they do not have a strong voice alone and rely on the members of the community to be observant and speak up when there are concerns that a child is not being cared for or is mistreated. It takes courage to support a child through the whole process but it is critical to ensuring child safety and well-being.”

“April is a time to celebrate the important role that communities, elected leaders, law enforcement and child service providers play in protecting children and strengthening families,” said Oneida County Sheriff Robert Maciol. “Everyone’s participation is critical. Focusing on ways to connect with families is one of the best things our community can do to strengthen families and prevent child abuse and neglect.”

“The Child Advocacy Center will always be here to support the children of this community who have been victimized by the horrors of sexual abuse and help to reduce the trauma that is inflicted upon them during the investigative and court processes,” said Chief Deputy Derrick O’Meara, Director of the CAC. “With more than 265 children served so far this year, we are relentless in the pursuit of justice for our most valuable resource and will never rest until it is served for each who needs it.”

“If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a team of dedicated community professionals to protect and support children in need,” said Dianne Stancato, CEO of YWCA Mohawk Valley. “We are most fortunate to have that team here with the Oneida County and the CAC, Sheriff Robert Maciol, Undersheriff Joe Lisi, and our dedicated child advocates. We also welcome CAC Director O’Meara to the CAC. Addressing child abuse is a monumental task, but we at YWCA Mohawk Valley believe that we will prevail and create a community where each and every child is safe and cherished.”