Blass: Restore 18 child protective jobs in Suffolk

Outgoing Suffolk Social Services Commissioner Gregory J. Blass used his last meeting before the legislature's Human Services Committee Monday to urge restoration of 18 Child Protective Services positions and changes to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's proposed human services budget.

"The 18 positions are a very serious gap in the structure of CPS," Blass told legislators.

The positions were eliminated last year as the county grappled with a multimillion-dollar budget shortfall, though Blass said the jobs were partially funded by the state.

Blass' request comes in the wake of two high-profile cases: the recent death of Adonis Reed, 4, in Amityville, who allegedly was fatally punched by his caretaker's boyfriend, and the discovery of the body of 17-month-old Justin Kowalczik, who was found buried in his family's backyard in Farmingdale in October.

Last year the bureau, which investigates child abuse and neglect cases, responded to more than 9,000 calls referred from the state's child abuse hotline, which state law requires be investigated within 24 hours.

Blass, who is retiring from his post as of Wednesday, also criticized Cuomo's proposed state budget, which keeps funding for child care subsidies the same as last year. In 2012, Suffolk dropped about 2,500 children from the program, which helps low-income working parents pay child care costs. Officials blamed the cuts on reduced state funding and increased demand for services triggered by the lagging economy. Cuomo's press office did not respond to requests for comment via phone and email Wednesday.

"It's uncomfortable to see the disconnect between the counties and the state here," new Legis. Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) said in response to Blass' concerns about the budget.

Blass also questioned Cuomo's proposal to cut state-run juvenile offender homes, and instead subsidize counties so they can contract out the services. He called it a "very expensive proposition" for the county and argued Suffolk does not have adequate facilities.

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