Oswego County Anti-Poverty Task Force
A Partnership of the County Legislature, County School Districts, and Community Leaders

List of Meetings, Focus Groups and Interviews Held

Task Force Meetings in 2015: Feb. 18, March 25, April 22, May 27, Nov. 6, Dec. 4, Dec. 8. In 2016: Jan. 20, March 4, May 6, June 3. (Meeting dates link to meeting minutes - PDF files.)

April 29, 2015
School Superintendents, School Board Members

April 30, 2015
Non-profit county service providers OCO + others
Guidance counselors & School Teachers
County department heads, DSS staff
Ecumenical Focus Group

May 1, 2015
Businesses Leaders
DA, Sheriff, Probation

May 13, 2015
Childhood poverty and the interventions schools can make. Sandy Creek Poverty Team, Anita Murphy on College Readiness at APW and Geri Geitner Director of Student Support Programs at Fulton CSD

June 24, 2015
Gregg Heffner, Commissioner of Oswego County Department of Social Services.
12 DSS employees, case workers, examiners, etc.
10 DSS employees, case workers, examiners, etc.
Mexico Food Pantry (while open) and met with Director Martha Sturtz afterwards.

June 25, 2015
Oswego County and City Youth Courts.
Focus Group with 3 OCO Options Group employees, frontline crisis intervention specialists.
Jiancheng Huang, Director of Public Health, Oswego County Health Department.
Joint Meeting / Focus Group with the Coalition to Combat Adolescent Substance Abuse in Oswego County.
Diane Cooper-Currier, Executive Director of Oswego County Opportunities.
Major James of the Oswego County Corps of the Salvation Army.

June 26, 2015
Literacy Groups - Literacy Volunteers, OCO Head Start and Childhood Literacy, and Adult & Migrant Education at Citi.
Sandy Creek Poverty Team

September 2
Jiancheng Huang, Director of Public Health, Oswego County Health Department.

September 3
Diane Cooper Currier, Executive Director of Oswego County Opportunities and Marti Babcock Deputy Commissioner of Oswego County Department of Social Services
Paul Forestiere, Executive Director, Oswego County Office of Cornell Cooperative Extension

September 8
Economic Development Team
Report to Legislators

September 10
School Districts Team
Phil Church, Oswego County Administrator

Summary of Focus Group Findings

Poverty impacts almost every aspect of community life in Oswego County, in schools, government, law enforcement, the courts, workforce preparedness, property valuations and community pride. There are clearly different categories of poverty, generational, recent, related to lack of education or skills, to mental health issues, social or drug problems.

The lack of basic needs, nutritious food for children in particular, combined with the lack of other basic needs, transportation, shelter, and access to health care often results in people being unable to plan ahead one day, much less plan for a better future.

For children in generational poverty, a lack of self-confidence is often imparted to children, contributing to poorly performing students, illiteracy, and increased dropout rates. For young adults, poverty increases destructive behaviors like drug abuse, unintended pregnancy, dropping out of school, and criminal activity.

Repeating ideas for solutions included increasing coordination between DSS, the schools and non-profits. Establishing a one stop entrance to human services that emphasized working potential, work and social skills training, community involvement and providing a dignified mentoring experience.

Fixing policy problems and filling gaps in services was a repeating theme. For example, programs that provide incentives for behaviors that are not conducive to a two-parent family should be fixed.

Transportation issues were the single most repeated problem. Challenges created by lack of access to transportation resulted in lack of health care, lack of school participation, families that couldnt utilize Head Start programs, apathy and hopelessness. OCO had a well-functioning dispatch system for their buses that the State ruined. That is the sort of policy we can work to fix.

Finding ways to bring services out to the towns was another repeating idea. Could schools, fire halls, town halls and churches be sites for training and locally based mentoring programs?
We need to continue to fund the fight against fraud and abuse of our systems. If we want a safer community we need to continue deterring criminal activity and the abuse of services.
Finally, the most repeated solution area was training. Prevention=Education: Pre-K, Head Start, character education, literacy training, parenting skills, the dangers of drugs, cooking, finances, work skills, social skills, all these are examples of training where a dollar spent early could pay off down the road.

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