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Study examines county's child neglect issues

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Erie County's Department of Social Services is teaming up with the University at Buffalo to study the chronic neglect of children in the county.

Each month Erie County receives about a 1,000 reports that require an investigation by Child Protective Services; 72 percent of open cases have had previous reports registered in the past four years.

Erie County Commissioner of Social Services Carol Dankert-Maurer says the study will focus on those families with a history of chronic neglect.

"What we're concerned about is the accumulation of the impact of chronic neglect on children. [It] has long lasting effects," Dankert-Maurer explained.

"It negatively impacts their ability to become a healthy adult."  

UB's School of Social Work is helping the county with the study, which Dankert Maurer says involves reviewing lots of data and case reports to identify patterns and trends. In many instances chronic neglect happens over several generations.  

"We really want to look at these cases and figure out, is there something we can do that would interrupt this cycle? And help parents to be able to parent their children and not have them penetrate the child protection or the juvenile system any further."

Because the study was funded by taxpayer dollars Dankert-Maurer says the Department of Social Services will be providing monthly updates to the County Legislature on the study's progress.