How Does OCY Handle Possible Neglect Cases? - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather and Events

How Does OCY Handle Possible Neglect Cases?

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It was a frightening situation yesterday on the Erie's East Side. A toddler, wearing only a diaper, was walking in the middle of Wallace Street. He had to be carried to safety by the driver of a pickup truck. An hour passed before the babysitter knew the little boy was gone.

The Erie County Office of Children and Youth handles such cases.

"There's not an overabundance of them, but we certainly get our fair share," says Director Mary Ann Daniels. "We seem to get more in the summertime. Doors are open. People are more mobile, both children and adults. So it's a little easier not to pay attention. There's a few more distractions in the summer than there would be in a typical winter in Erie."

Daniels says policy forbids her from talking about any specific case. She did say the agency treats each case individually.  In some cases, charges are filed.  In other cases, the parents or baby sitter is referred to counseling or child care training.

"Our goal really is to help and to support and try to intervene in the least restrictive manner possible. Sometimes it's very restrictive. Sometimes, it's really just trying to direct the family in a fashion where they might be able to find some help," she said.

The case on the East Side was chilling. Every parent wants assurance that they have left their child in good hands.  But, the bottom line is this. In Pennsylvania, just about anyone can be a babysitter.

"There are no restrictions on how old you have to be, or any sort of certification in order to just babysit someone's children," says Daniels.

Daniels says the best thing for parents to do when trying to find a babysitter is to check the babysitters references thoroughly, and perhaps even go on Facebook to find out more information about that person.

 

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