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Firings and Hirings at Family Bureau: “Scary” Situation for Kids?

May 13, 2011

NEW YORK - A fired Nassau County lawyer is charging that hundreds of New York children are being put at risk of abuse and neglect because of firings and hirings there.

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano has cut 400 jobs since taking office, and claims future cuts and a hiring freeze will save the county $70 million in 2011. However, former Family Bureau attorney D.J. Rosenbaum doubts there are any savings in the Family Bureau, because she says almost all of the 10 fired lawyers have been replaced by attorneys with political connections but no experience trying child-welfare cases.

"Now, you have a Family Court Bureau in Nassau County that is overburdened with inexperienced people. Children can be hurt because they are not going to be protected by the court system which was set up to protect them."

Rosenbaum calls it a scary situation for both the children and people of the county.

Nassau County Attorney John Ciampoli responded by saying, "The individuals hired in the county's court bureaus are qualified and experienced attorneys." Ciampoli says the lawyers working in Family Court are "dedicated, committed and have made sure that no case is jeopardized."

Rosenbaum says she and her fired co-workers were told to clear out without notice, even though they were in the middle of dozens of cases impacting the safety of local children.

"The work has to do with protecting children, keeping them safe, safe from from people who abuse them physically and drug addicts. When we have caseloads in excess of 60 cases each, and just yank us out of there, and expect that those cases would just be handled in a competent way is really very scary."

Mangano has emphasized his efforts to cut labor costs, but Rosenbaum says evidence suggests the county executive is putting politics ahead of children's safety.

"I'm very clear that a number of people that have replaced us have no experience, no training or background for this work, are making very good salaries and have connections to the Republican Party."

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY