News Release

 

For More Information:

William R. Steinhaus
Dutchess County Executive
(845) 486-2000
countyexec@co.dutchess.ny.us

For Immediate Release

October 21, 2002

County Executive Steinhaus Announces $360,000
To Strengthen Dutchess Families

Dutchess County Executive, William R. Steinhaus, announced today that Dutchess County Healthy Families, a child abuse prevention program currently operated in the City of Poughkeepsie, has received additional funding to expand into the Town of Poughkeepsie, Hyde Park and Beacon.

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

In making the announcement Steinhaus explained that, “Dutchess County’s children are our link with the future and one of our most important assets.  Strong families grow strong children that 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 preventing abuse and neglect. Because these services are offered in the home, they can also reach isolated families that may not have been able to receive traditional services.  This award will greatly enhance the County’s existing services for families.”   The County Executive credited New York State Senator Stephen Saland as being instrumental in helping the Health Department successfully compete for the grant award.

“I am pleased I was able to help Dutchess County Healthy Families expand to the Town of Poughkeepsie, Hyde Park and Beacon,” said Senator Saland.   “The Healthy Families Program is one which provides assistance to families which might otherwise be at risk and prevents child abuse and neglect.  Those who take advantage of these programs have healthier children, are better able to prepare their children for school and have families less likely to become dependent on the welfare system.”

“As Chairman of the Senate’s Children and Families Committee I have seen the positive effect that preventative programs have on families and I am proud that more of our local families will now have this program available.”

County Executive Steinhaus also noted, “Enrollment in these programs can decrease long-term reliance on public assistance and reduce the need for out of home placement. The HFNY Home Visiting Service costs about $2500 - $3,500 per year, per family.  On the other hand, foster care placement in New York State costs over $15,000 per year, per child.  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 Commissioner of Health, Dr. Michael Caldwell 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, a lack of good information about parenting is often a problem.  Poverty presents major challenges for today’s parents, and young children and their mothers are the group most likely to be living in poverty.  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.”

HFNY programs include comprehensive, home based services for families that start during pregnancy or when a child is born, and continue for up to five years after the child’s birth.  Specially trained home visitors, called Family Support Workers, are recruited from the communities in which they serve to work with families in a positive, supportive manner building on parents’ strengths.  Earlier this year, the federal Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a strong recommendation regarding early childhood home visitation programs.  The CDC’s review of studies of early childhood home visitation programs suggests that approximately 40% of abuse and neglect might be prevented and that the longer the programs are offered to families, the larger the effects of prevention. Also,Prevent Child Abuse America’s 1999 public opinion poll found that 72% of parents interviewed as part of the research think it is appropriate to offer home visits.  In addition, 82% of parents approved of government investment in home visiting programs.  The poll showed that this position was shared by 73% of those persons without children under 18 living at home.

Throughout New York, there are 28 Healthy Families New York Home Visiting Programs and State legislative leaders are being invited to meet local families involved with the innovative parenting programs.  In Dutchess County, the Health Department will be hosting an opportunity for State and local officials to meet Dutchess families participating in the DCHF program on Tuesday, October 29th from 9:00 to 10:30 a.m.  New York State Senator Stephen Saland will be participating this event which will be held at the Dutchess County Healthy Families site located on the main level of the HSBC Bank on Main Street in the City of Poughkeepsie.

For more information on Dutchess County’s Healthy Families New York Program, residents may call locally, 452-3387, Monday – Friday, 8:00 am – 5:30 pm.

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2002 Press Releases