OSWEGO COUNTY, N.Y. - Just when 11-year-old Erin Maxwell begins to fade from our minds, she is brought back. This time, with the results of a process review as gathered by Cornell University. Maxwell was found dead of asphyxiation in her Palermo home last August. Her step-brother, Alan Jones, has been charged with her murder.
In a nutshell, the report says the Oswego County Social Services Department is understaffed. And Commissioner Frances Lanigan agrees.
"I felt it's a productive process review that will help us to move forward and we'll be able to develop a very solid action plan," Lanigan said on Friday.
That action plan comes with $500,000 from New York State to place just over a dozen new case workers.
"The $500,000 is meant to cover just new child protective workers and the cost associated with their salaries and benefits. It will last through March 30th, 2010," said county administrator Phil Church.
After that, the county will pay 35 percent of new case worker salaries, which is what they do now with current case workers, those of which are dealing with double the case load.
In the meantime, will the report quell the critics who originally asked Lanigan to step down after Maxwell’s death?
"I believe there are those in the public that have certain views and whether this changes it is something they would have to answer. Some people this will not satisfy," Lanigan said.
Added Church, "I don't think anyone in this county government wants Erin Maxwell's legacy to be one of angry speeches and accusations and finger pointing and scape-goating. It doesn't do anyone any good and doesn't help any children."
Lanigan says about 70 applicants will be taking the civil service exam this weekend. Those hired could begin as early as August.