Retired CPS director offers insight after boy is stabbed at home

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BUFFALO, NY (WIVB) More than 48 hours after a six-year-old boy was cut and stabbed 50 times in his home on Purdy Street, Buffalo Police are still not releasing his mother’s name or giving any further details other than to say she is in custody and being evaluated.

The disturbing incident on Wednesday morning has launched a complicated discussion about the delicate judgments which have to be made when a parent has a history of mental illness.

Hours after the incident on Wednesday, Crystal Hairston, a neighbor who pulled the boy to safety, noted that the boy’s mother was known to have a history of being treated for mental health. “But I never thought she would ever hurt him,” said Hairston. “She was good to him.”

Jim Brice, who spent 20 years working for Erie County Child Protective Services, has no direct knowledge of this case but tells News Four that it can often be a tough call judging when a parent is no longer fit to care for a child.

“I think neighbors are a very good source of information,” said Brice. “But also keep in mind that the neighbor’s not a mental health expert and the Child Protective Services worker is not a mental health expert.”

He suggests that if you feel you know a child to be in immediate danger, call 9-1-1, but if you’re not sure that the child is in a good situation you can call the NYS Child Abuse Hotline at 1-(800) 342 3720.

“Understand that CPS workers are not that emergency response and they have time to go out and do a thorough initial judgment of whether children are safe or unsafe,” said Brice.

Erie County Child Protective Services does about 10-thousand investigations annually and has about 100 caseworkers available to do those investigations.

“The first decision that a CPS worker needs to make is whether children are safe,” said Brice. “If a community member really is having questions, then it’s time to make some phone calls, and they’ll be educated through that process as well.”

You can also find helpful information about home assessments offered by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services in this link.

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