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September 6, 2017 - 8:09am
posted by Howard B. Owens in DSS, Department of Social Services, news, foster care.

An ongoing expense struggle for the county's Department of Social Services said Commissioner Eileen Kirkpatrick is the cost of supporting children in foster care, and especially those who are institutionalized because of serious behavioral problems.

There are about 15 kids in institutional care, which costs the county about $225,000 per year per child.

These are children whose parents could either no longer handle them, or the parents are out of the picture and the children caused problems in foster care settings.

"Some kids' behavior is so extreme not only are they not safe, their families aren't safe and their foster parents aren't safe," Kirkpatrick said. "I'm talking about kids who assault staff, who actually beat up their caretakers."

Kirkpatrick talked about one child who has been in DSS care since she was 12. She frequently ran away from her foster homes and later her institutional care homes.

"I'm responsible for her until she's 21," Kirkpatrick said. "That young lady, she got out of OCSF at 18 and a month beforehand, we moved her into a supervised independent living program. I'm surprised. She's been there since June and actually has stayed there."

That $45,000 annual fee is better than the $225,000 it cost to keep her institutionalized.

There are currently 51 children in foster care, Kirkpatrick said, and the vast majority of them are typical children, going to school and staying out of serious trouble.

The county needs to find more local foster parents, though. Kirkpatrick anticipates an increase in need with school starting when schools are more likely to identify children with problems at home. Today's problems that lead to foster care often involve parental drug addiction. Opioid addiction takes a toll on the children, too.

It's better for the county to place children with the county's own foster parents than through one of the volunteer agencies, she said. That's because when the child goes to an agency, the county often ends up handling case management for the child; making sure they get registered for school, go to school and make any doctor's appointments, for example. So the county doesn't escape that expense, even though it's paying a higher fee for outside placement.

This was Kirkpatrick's last department review with County Legislators before retiring. Her presentation, she said, was meant to inform legislators of one of the significant cost issues facing DSS as the county heads into another round of budget preparation.

January 19, 2016 - 5:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in homeless, public assistance, social services, DSS.

The governor's recent executive order on how to deal with homeless people in local municipalities during cold weather won't have much impact on Genesee County, said Eileen Kirkpatrick, the county's director of Social Services.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's order has been widely reported to mandate that local law enforcement require any homeless person found out and about in freezing weather to be taken off the streets and placed in an appropriate shelter.

That isn't exactly what the governor ordered, Kirkpatrick said.

"Neither law enforcement nor DSS has any legal authority to put anybody anyplace they don't want to go," Kirkpatrick said.

The order doesn't change anything for how lack-of-shelter situations have long been handled in Genesee County, she said.

All of the law enforcement agencies, along with the Mental Health department, have long worked well with DSS to help resolve lack-of-shelter situations.

When a cop finds a person who is seemingly without shelter during freezing weather, the officer tries to determine if the person is intoxicated or has a mental health issue that would inhibit the person from making a rational decision about his or her own safety.

If the person is intoxicated, the officer has the authority to seek medical treatment for the individual.

If there appears to be a mental health issue, mental health workers are contacted and the person is taken in, usually to Warsaw's hospital, where a mental health evaluation will be made to determine if the person is capable of making a rational decision about his or her shelter.

If a person is capable of making a rational decision, then the decision to stay on the street or not is up to that individual and, as Kirkpatrick said, neither law enforcement nor DSS has the authority to force that person into a shelter.

If the person, however, would like shelter, there are options.

When the warming shelter is open, as it is tonight, women and children can be taken to the shelter.

Males without children can be given a bus ticket to either Rochester or Buffalo and directions to a shelter that accepts men. If the busses are not running, an after-hours DSS worker can help arrange for a room at a local hotel or motel.

Adults judged to be competent to make their own decisions always have the choice to stay on the street, but when officials find children without shelter, Child Protective Services always has the authority to take the child to an appropriate shelter.

There doesn't seem to be the stereotypical homelessness issue in Batavia that might exist in larger cities, Kirkpatrick said. You don't expect to find people sleeping under bridges here.

However, there is an issue with people being "inadequately housed," she said. These might be people living nine to a two-bedroom trailer, or who stay with different people throughout the week or in another shelter-insecure situation.

Sometimes it's just a financial issue. There are also people who have such a bad reputation for destroying property among local landlords that they find it difficult to secure a rental.

In all cases, DSS has programs in place to help people who need assistance with shelter, she said. If there is somebody without shelter and they're competent to make that decision, then that is their decision. Typically, they've made that decision because they don't want to go along with the rules that go along with getting assistance from DSS.

"There are some people who are in a perpetual state of homelessness because that's their choice as an adult," Kirkpatrick said. "There is assistance available for anybody who wants to abide by the rules and what New York State dictates. These aren't Eileen Kirkpatrick's rules. These are the state rules."

January 6, 2016 - 5:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Le Roy, welfare fraud, DSS.

A 25-year-old Le Roy resident who admitted to cheating the system out of $10,437 in public assistance and food stamps was sentenced in County Court today to five years probation. 

Jessica Horton was also ordered to pay back the money obtained under false pretenses.

Horton was accused in August of filing documents with the Department of Social Services claiming that her two children were living with her when they were not.

She entered a guilty plea Oct. 29 to one count of offering a false instrument for filing in satisfaction of the counts she was originally arrested on, which included seven counts of offering a false Instrument for filing, 1st, and one count of grand larceny, 3rd.

As a term of the plea deal, Horton is permanently disqualified from receiving financial aid through the Temporary Assistance or SNAP programs.

To report suspected welfare fraud, call DSS's Fraud Investigation Unit at (585) 344-2580, ext. 6417 or 6416. All calls are confidential.

October 10, 2015 - 9:00am

fullsizerender_13.jpg

Workers with Department of Social Services wore pink Friday as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and they shared pink snacks with each other. So far, they've raised $140 for Genesee Cancer Assistance and will continue fund-raising efforts throughout October.

Reader submitted photo.

July 3, 2012 - 8:56am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Medicaid, DSS.

The state is planning to take over all of the administrative functions for Medicaid, but the state isn't ready and shows no signs of being ready any time soon.

That's what Eileen Kirkpatrick, commissioner of Social Services in Genesee County, told the Human Services Committee during its meeting Monday.

New York has set a deadline of April 2018 for Medicaid administration to be switched from county DSS offices to state employees, either working in Albany or at local offices.

The state, she said, "failed miserably" in its first pilot project to take over administration for 12 counties, with hundreds of cases being mishandled.

It would be easy to think, Kirkpatrick said, that for the sake of local Medicaid clients, the county should hold onto local administration as long as possible, but the state has capped reimbursement for administrative costs.

If the county continues to administer the program, local wages and benefits and other expenses will continue to go up, but the state won't reimburse at a higher rate.

That's why, Kirkpatrick said, the county should go ahead and request the state take over the program, even if they aren't entirely ready for it on schedule.

In New York, Medicaid is a $53 billion program. About 3 percent of the expense goes to administration.

Currently, the county fills 22 full-time equivalent positions to administer Medicaid.  Some of the employees currently in those jobs would be able to transfer to the state payroll and continue doing much the same job as they do now.

July 3, 2012 - 8:30am
posted by Howard B. Owens in welfare, DSS.

Fewer than 100 people in Genesee County who are able-bodied adults are on welfare Eileen Kirkpatrick, commissioner of Social Services locally, told members of the legislature on Monday.

"The idea or belief that Genesee County has a huge cadre of its citizens just sitting around collecting welfare is a myth," Kirkpatrick said.

There are currently 626 people receiving cash assistance, and 348 of them are children, Kirkpatrick said.

Kirkpatrick presented her report to the county legislature during its Human Services Committee meeting.

Of the 278 adults receiving cash assistance, 179 of them are not considered employable. These are people who may be awaiting SSI benefits determinations or have temporary illness or injuries that keep them from working.

Of the able-bodied adults receiving cash assistance, many of them have jobs but do not earn enough money to fully support themselves. They get a small, partial grant, Kirkpatrick said.

The able-bodied adults who don't work are required to do volunteer labor with various local nonprofit agencies.

All able-bodied adults receiving assistance are required to take classes or get job training that may help them get better paying jobs.

There are two types of cash assistance. There is a 60-month Family Assistance program that is funded by the federal government.  The benefit was capped at 60 months by the Clinton Administration.

But, according to the state constitution, DSS is required to provide ongoing cash assistance to individuals who qualify once Family Assistance runs out. 

The second program that provides ongoing assistance is called Safety Net.

The cost of the Safety Net program is largely shouldered by county taxpayers. The state pays for only 29 percent of the program. The county pays 71 percent.

"The Safety Net program is mandated, yet localities have little or no control over the provisions of benefits, short of detecting fraud," Kirkpatrick said. "The state defines what must be funded, but has decreased their support for funding the program."

The county currently handles 158 Safety Net cases, serving 189 individuals.

That's an increase from 2010 when there were 108 cases, serving 138 people.

Family Assistance cases increased during the same period from 152 to 177.

Kirkpatrick said the increase is a result of the recession taking a bit of a toll on Genesee County.

From 2008 to 2010, Genesee was the only county in the state that actually saw a decrease in the number of people receiving temporary assistance.

Another myth Kirkpatrick said she wanted to dispel was that people getting food stamps don't have jobs.

Of the 2,888 households in Genesee County receiving food stamps, Kirkpatrick said, 72 percent have at least one adult who has a job.

The program brings more than $9 million into Genesee County, Kirkpatrick said, all of it federal dollars.

"A lot of folks don't realize there is no local share," Kirkpatrick said. "They think they see people with food stamps buying fancy steaks and lobster at Tops, or going to the 7-11 and buying surgary drinks and junk food, but there's no local cost to the benefit."

Food stamps are supposed to supplement a family or individual food budget, but DSS is seeing more cases, Kirkpatrick said, of recipients relying entirely on food stamps for their meals.

"Although the program is meant to supplement a family's nutrition, surgary sodas and cereals, candy and snacks, pre-packaged food and other unwise purchases are allowed," Kirkpatrick said. "While the Food Stamp Nutrition Education Program is made available to recipients, they cannot be mandated to attend."

The local cost for the food stamp program is in administration, and the state is covering less and less of that expense.

Currently, the county spends $542,505 on food stamp administration and gets $49,041 from the state.

Administration costs are also going up as the state encourages more and more people to sign up for the benefit.

Kirkpatrick said there is one group of Genesee County residents who may not be taking full advantage of the food stamp program -- seniors.

Only 451 people in Genesee County age 65 or older receive food stamps. Kirkpatrick said -- especially since eligibility is based on income, not resources -- many more local seniors probably qualify for the program than are using it.

ILLUSTRATION: A graphic that has been making the rounds on Facebook the past couple of weeks.

December 7, 2010 - 2:30pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, DSS.

Joshua Carney, 33, and Holly Carney, 27, both of 64 Spencer Court, Batavia, are changed with several felonies following an investigation by the Department of Social Services. Joshua Carney has been charged with nine counts of offering a false instrument for filing, 1st, and one count of grand larceny, 3rd. Holly Carney is charged with 11 counts of offering a false instrument for filing, 1st, and one count of grand larceny, 3rd. DSS investigators alleged that the Carneys failed to report commission income from his employer. The alleged failure to report the income meant the Carneys received $14,017.14 in food stamp and medicaid benefits from May 1, 2008 to June 30, 2010 to which they were not entitled. They were taken into custody by Deputy Chad Minuto and arraigned in Batavia Town Court.

Brandy Miller (aka Brandy Osmancikli), 37, of 2093 Lewiston Road, Basom, is charged with four counts of offering a false instrument for filing, 1st, and one count of petit larceny.  Miller is accused of failing to report income from March 11, 2010 to May 27, 2010. She allegedly received $612 in food stamp benefits to which she was not entitled.

Jamie Hamill, 33, of 4311 Lockport Road, Elba, is charged with grand larceny, 4th, and three counts of offering a false instrument for filing, 1st. Hamill is accused of submitting forms to DSS without revealing that her husband was employed full-time. Hamill allegedly received $542.41 in temporary assistance benefits and $661 in food stamps to which she wasn't entitled between July 2009 and November 2009.

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