Officials say Paterson's proposed cuts put youth at risk

NORWICH – Gov. David Paterson’s plans to close or downsize juvenile detention centers in New York as well as the community options programs that aim to keep youths out of them are contradictory, say local officials.

“You can’t cut both,” Pam Larsen, executive director of the Family Resource Network said Wednesday. “Either children are placed, or they are supported well in the community to avoid that placement.”

About 15 to 30 of Chenango County’s children are hanging on a tightrope between the two options, with Larsen and Social Services Commissioner Bette Osborne left operating on a month-to-month basis with only enough funds budgeted through April. Moreover, should the Governor’s budget goes through as is, the cuts would be retroactive to October 2008.

The county contracts with the Network’s Coordinated Children’s Services Initiative (CCSI) to help families of at risk youths take advantage of the social and mental health services available to them. The six-year long collaboration has resulted in fewer placements in detention centers, except for last year when four - a higher number than usual - were placed.

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