Unforeseen cuts have devastating effect for Buffalo Prenatal Perinatal Network

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)–The Buffalo Prenatal Perinatal Network provides critical services to help families care for their young ones even before they are born. But the Network also sends workers into the homes of their clients, helping families learn how to be families–mothers and dads.

Tayrria Cooks is typical of the thousands of women and men who have been helped by the Buffalo Prenatal Perinatal Network.

“The support system is amazing,” Cook said.

The Buffalo mom has been participating in the Healthy Families program for nearly six years, when she was pregnant with her 5-year-old son Zayhir and now she is pregnant again.

“I haven’t went without anything, whether it was emotional support, physical support, diapers, wipes, toys.”

But now that help is under siege. Close to a half-million dollars in funding through the State Office of Children and Family Services is in jeopardy from cutbacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The largest of the Network’s services is the Healthy Families program, which program manager AnnMarie Correa told us is being dialed down from in-home visits to phone calls.. with exceptions.

“If a family is in crisis, we will go and will be making referrals.”

The cutbacks have already led to seven layoffs and the thought of getting by without the Network’s help is a tough reality for Tayrria to even imagine.

“When you don’t have family, you don’t have outside help and they are there.”

Correa is one of those who refuse to let a furlough keep her away.

Why? Because the work is important and I will never abandon my staff.”

Prenatal Perinatal officials told us the public funding through the Office of Children and Family Services has already been approved by state lawmakers.. it is just a matter of getting OCFS to release the funds. But without additional aid from the government, the budget picture could change drastically.

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Al Vaughters is an award-winning investigative reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 1994. See more of his work here.

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