Report: St. Lawrence County DSS put kids in foster care at a rate three times that of other counties

Published: Sep. 22, 2021 at 5:33 PM EDT
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CANTON, New York (WWNY) - Critics call it a red flag. A state report determines St. Lawrence County’s social services department removes children from homes, putting them in foster care, at almost 3 times the rate as the rest of state.

It comes as an advocacy group claims DSS workers take foster kids into their own homes as a way to make money.

A state review we reported on last week gave chilling detail on how St. Lawrence County Social Services put children at risk. But, it also points out there are soaring numbers of children in foster care.

“That’s a big red flag to me because this is not a trend that is happening across the country. This is something that’s happening in St. Lawrence County,” said Courtney Fantone, CHILD advocacy group.

Numbers soared from 166 children in foster care at the end of 2017 to 374 at one point this year. The state report gives hints of why. It says St. Lawrence County Social Services removes children from homes at almost three times the rate as the rest of the state.

“They are taking kids out of homes where they don’t need to be taken out of,” said Fantone.

CHILD says that includes foster homes. And CHILD, as well as the county, ID another problem: children in foster care way to long. The law mandates a goal of getting children back with family, or relatives or into adoption within a year.

“And is that our objective? It should be. And it is now,” said Stephen Button, St. Lawrence County attorney.

CHILD also alleges social workers taking foster children into their own homes do so for profit. The county is hiring an outside firm to look into that and other complaints.

“They’re going to look at all. We’re going to give them all. We’re going to give them the whole gamut,” said William Sheridan, St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators.

The state report gives us the first real peak into what ails St. Lawrence County Social Services.

A fuller look may come soon. CHILD says it intends to file lawsuits for wronged foster parents. And they intend to show at board of legislator meetings with new revelations.

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