ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Monroe County Legislator Justin Wilcox has called on the Legislature to investigate an alarming spike in child fatalities in Monroe County.
A New York State cumulative fatality report indicated that Monroe County had the second-highest number of fatalities in the state — behind Kings County, the largest in the state with a population of over 2.5 million.
Monroe County had one of the largest year to year increases in child fatality reports — with a 93 percent increase from last year.
Child fatality reports are produced only under specific circumstances – when a child dies that is in custody or care of the county of while a child is involved in an open child protective services case. Wilcox wants to put together a committee to look into why so many children are dying in Monroe County’s care.
“We learned from a state report that there was a 93 percent increase in the number of deaths in a year,” County Legislator Wilcox said.
Wilcox also said that Monroe County has nearly twice as many deaths as Erie County, and there is a reason for it.
“The State shut down our Family Assessment Response program, and our Department of Human Services has been under a State mandated corrective action plan because of concerns over our CPS program and now we have these appalling child fatality numbers,” said Wilcox. “The Legislature can no longer bury its head in the sand. We have an obligation to the children of Monroe County to ensure they are safe — especially when they are in our care.”Monroe County Democratic Caucus Media Release.
Monroe County issued the following statement on Saturday:
“It is reprehensible that Justin Wilcox – who works for a former Democrat Party Chair – would use child fatalities to play politics during campaign season. The truth is every child fatality is a tragedy. Over the three years covered in the State report, Erie County averaged 19 child fatalities annually and Monroe averaged 22 during the same period. Mr. Wilcox’s statement is fundamentally misleading, since the vast majority of these fatalities are the result of unsafe sleep practices, not active CPS cases. Monroe County understands that every child death is one too many. That’s why the County will continue to follow its CPS Eight Point Plan, which has delivered a 32 percent decrease in open CPS reports since implementation.”