November 27, 2021

County may lose aid for child abuse victims

Bob Ellis/staff photographer

Children from the Head Start program at the Cortland County Family, from left to right Christian Kolb, Quinn McConnell and Jazmine Austin, place pinwheels in the ground Thursday in front of the YMCA on Tompkins Street in Cortland. The theme is Pinwheels for Prevention is being promoted by the Child Advocacy Center of Cortland County, which is dedicated to the prevention, education and investigation of child abuse.

Cortland County may lose $9,000 in federal aid to help victims of child abuse.

And this is Child Abuse Prevention Month.

District Attorney Patrick Perfetti said this week he is not sure whether to expect word that the federal funds will be restored from the National Children’s Alliance, the accrediting body for children’s advocacy centers.

The money funds advocacy services for victims of child abuse and was cut recently. Perfetti expects word on whether it will be restored later in April.

The center has one full-time staff member who does both advocacy and prevention work in schools.

This position’s salary is covered by the center’s budget, funded through a $130,000 state grant from the state Office of Children and Family Services.

But the center could use a staff member devoted solely to advocacy, said Director Kris Beard. Advocates provide support and referrals for services like counseling and medical evaluations to families after a report of abuse.

About $2,000 of the cut funds would have gone to buy books for the children, but the fundraising arm of the center, the Friends of the Cortland County Child Advocacy Center, will try to fill that gap, Beard said.

Perfetti said cost-saving measures in his office could help absorb the loss, like a salary being shared between agencies.
However, he is confident that if he needs to seek funding from the county, he could get it.

“The Legislature finds value in a properly staffed CAC,” he said. “Ten thousand dollars in the grand scheme of things is not a lot of money.”