Press-Republican

January 1, 2013

Link created between schools and services

By DENISE A. RAYMO
Press-Republican

---- — MALONE — A new position created through BOCES will streamline help to at-risk students and their families in Franklin County.

The school-links-coordinator effort involves the Board of Cooperative Educational Services, the County Department of Social Services and County Community Services Board.

The part-time, certified administrator hired for the program will act as a go-between for families and myriad county services that are available, said Lesley Lyon, commissioner of Social Services.

The person will work with designated school officials who have identified at-risk kids and determine what county programs will work best for the students and their families.

“It’s a person at the table to help translate for them about our court-order procedures or mental-health needs,” she said.

“We have a good relationship with (BOCES), and it’s not a huge number of cases, but when you need it, you need it.”

BOCES will hire the coordinator, and Social Services will pay for a majority of the roughly $32,000 position, which is fully reimbursed by the state.

Suzanne Goolden, director of the Community Services Board, pledged $4,000 toward the salary.

‘SMALL PRICE TO PAY’

The coordinator will be limited to 15 hours a week and be paid $35 an hour plus mileage reimbursement.

County Manager Thomas Leitz said this type of coordination could also be used to pair schools to programs and services offered through Director Katie Strack and the County Public Health Office.

“It’s the same taxpayer dollars and the same kids being served,” he said.

Lyon has sought ways to match services to troubled youths before they become a drain on the criminal-justice system as adults.

Boarding troubled kids away can cost the county $500 a day per child, and being boarded away removes them from their community where family cannot be part of treatment and eventual reintroduction into the home.

“There are a number of high-school placements that are costing us,” Leitz said, adding that service modifications tried in Social Services this year have reduced the expense.

“We’ve made good inroads,” he said, “and this (liaison) is a small price to pay without costing county money.”

Email Denise A. Raymo:

draymo@pressrepublican.com