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News Release    

December 3, 2003


County Executive Steinhaus Continues Funding to Strengthen Dutchess Families

Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus submitted legislation for action by the Legislature at its December 8th meeting requesting the balance of State grant dollars to continue to fund Healthy Families New York (HFNY) program in Dutchess County. The $333,061 balance of HFNY grant will fund Dutchess County Healthy Families (DCHF) in the City and Town of Poughkeepsie, Hyde Park and Beacon.

“Dutchess County’s children are our link with the future and one of our most important assets. Strong families grow strong children, which make successful citizens for our community. The services provided through the HFNY grant promote positive parenting skills and parent-child interaction, and, they are offered precisely when planned early intervention makes the greatest impact on improving child development and/or preventing abuse and neglect,” said County Executive Steinhaus.

Dutchess County Healthy Families is a comprehensive and voluntary family support initiative that works to prevent child abuse, neglect and offers expectant families and parents intensive ongoing home visiting services beginning before or shortly after the birth of a child. HFNY is administered statewide by the New York State Office of Children & Family Services, who awarded a total of $360,000 to Dutchess County in collaboration with Prevent Child Abuse New York and the New York State Department of Health.

“Because these services are offered in the home, they can also reach isolated families that may not have been able to receive traditional services. These monies will greatly enhance the County’s existing services for families,” added Steinhaus.  County Executive Steinhaus also noted that, “Enrollment in these programs can decrease long-term reliance on public assistance and reduce the need for out of home placement. The Healthy Families Home Visiting Service costs about $2,500 - $3,500 per family, per year. On the other hand, foster care placement in New York State costs over $15,000 per child, per year. In today’s fiscal reality, limiting the cost of government service delivery while enhancing the quality of those services is important to all members of the community.”

Dutchess County’s Department of Health partners with Mid Hudson Family Health Institute to guide families to needed services provided by Dutchess County Department of Social Services, Vassar Brothers Hospital, Dutchess County YWCA, Astor Early Head Start, WIC, the Dutchess County Child Services Council, Dutchess County Probation Department and the Child Abuse Prevention Center.

Dutchess County Commissioner of Health, Michael C. Caldwell, MD, MPH, further explained the need for the program, “Children are the most vulnerable population. Highly stressed or overburdened parents often have difficulty providing the best care for their children. For teen parents, good information about parenting is often lacking. Poverty presents major challenges for today’s parents. Other stressors putting parents and children at risk include: depression, alcohol and drug abuse, inadequate information about child development, and lack of skills and knowledge about positive discipline of children.”

In the last year, the program served 327 families, providing more than 2,000 home visits and nearly 1,500 referrals were made to needed services. These families report 100% reduction in stress after six months, with 82% of families receiving education, vocational training, or employment and 96% of the children are enrolled in primary care.

Dutchess County Healthy Families sites are located at 341 Main Street (rear entrance HSBC Bank), Suite 101, Poughkeepsie and at 95 Catherine Street, Beacon.

For more information on Dutchess County’s Healthy Families, residents may call the program at (845) 452-3387.


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