Poughkeepsie…. Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus announced today the coordination of service delivery in two essential county program areas, domestic violence and child preventive services. In the face of decreasing state grants and ever-increasing state mandates, the Department of Social Services, the District Attorney’s Office, the Office of Probation and Community Corrections, and the Dutchess County Youth Bureau will join forces to strengthen services while lowering the County’s share of the cost.
County Executive Steinhaus stated, “While state mandated Medicaid costs are beyond our control and it becomes more and more difficult for us to provide services of choice to residents, I have asked department heads and commissioners to be innovative, creative and smarter in their approach to the provision of services. Through the coordination of domestic violence and child preventive services, two local priorities I deem extremely important, we are able to maximize state funding so we can continue these critical programs in the community.”
As a result of an exhaustive and competitive process, the county departments involved with these programs recommended contracts with two well regarded local agencies to continue domestic violence services; Grace Smith House and Family Services, Inc. of Dutchess County. The move is expected to offer a more specialized and cohesive methodology in securing the safety of victims from their abusers through the use of Family Court Advocacy; domestic violence children and adult services liaisons; the services of a Domestic Abuse Response Team (DART); and counseling, crisis intervention, support groups and information and referral services for victims. The County also requires the services of a Spanish–speaking outreach worker to assist the community’s growing Latino population.
Legal assistance will be provided to victims of domestic violence and their children in obtaining orders of protection, custody and visitation orders, representation in matters of child support and spousal support proceedings and any other legal relief that will promote the safety and well being of the victim and children in the household. Advocacy will include pro-bono representation for divorce proceedings in the Supreme Court of Dutchess County.
The Department of Social Services will receive a 50% state reimbursement for coordinating these services, which at the current rate contracted, will save Dutchess County over $177,000 in 2004 and going forward.
In the area of child preventive services, the Department of Social Services (DSS) is eligible for 65% reimbursement from New York State. These are services provided to at-risk youth to help keep them out of institutional care, a level of care that carries an enormous cost. In collaboration with the Dutchess County Youth Bureau and Probation Department, DSS will now administer and fund these services, again maximizing state reimbursement.
“Our focus is to identify youth before they reach the court system to prevent them from living out their teen years in institutions, away from family and their community,” said Steinhaus.
Analysis has shown early detection and appropriate services for pre-court kids should be the first step in aiding this population. It is estimated Dutchess will save over $890,000 this year.
“Dutchess County, like many New York counties, has been challenged by economic constraints the past several years caused by Medicaid and state pension costs, as well as general economic and stock market declines, certainly exacerbated locally following the September 11, 2001 tragedy in New York City. Some counties are cutting, and in some cases, eliminating services. My administration is working diligently through better management and innovative leadership to ensure we offer a greater level of service at the lowest possible cost to the county’s taxpayers,” said Steinhaus.
“As we in the Executive and Budget office put the finishing touches on the soon to be proposed 2005 Tentative Budget and look to provide the best services possible at a cost affordable to our taxpayers, I especially want to recognize Commissioner Robert Allers who was instrumental in bringing together the various County departments to structure this new, coordinated and cost saving approach to the delivery of these services,” added Steinhaus.
The total cost savings and the restructure of both domestic violence and youth prevention programs will save the County a combined total of over $1 million dollars in 2004, over $1 million dollars in 2005 and going forward, while providing better more focused and future based services for this at-risk population.
The County Executive is required to submit his 2005 Tentative Budget to the Dutchess County Legislature by November 1, 2004.