MEXICO, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — This week marks one year since NewsChannel 9 first reported on the death of Jordan Brooks, the 17-year-old Oswego County boy who died from malnutrition and suspected neglect in May 2021.
Jordan was just 55 pounds and covered in bedsores when he died. His death followed years of documented concern surrounding his well-being and care.
Jordan’s mother and stepfather, Lisa and Anthony Waldron are charged in connection to their son’s death. Both of their murder trial dates are now scheduled.
His parents are not only under a microscope, but so is Oswego County’s Department of Social Services, the agency responsible for protecting children like Jordan.
On Saturday, March 17, Oswego County Social Services held its first open house to try and bolster its workforce. The department has been dealing with ongoing staffing issues gripping the agency.
However, the deputy commissioner of Oswego County Department of Social Services, Martha Babcock, told NewsChannel 9 the agency is working to change that.
“We have a lot of staff that are working overtime and additional hours because there’s that much work to be done and not enough people to fill those jobs,” Babcock explained. “People are working 40-50 hours per week sometimes just to be able to keep on top of the cases that we have.”
Currently, the department has a 30 percent total vacancy rate. 31 caseworker positions need to be filled, along with hiring more child and adult protective services employees, 11 more social welfare examiners, preventatives service workers and foster care employees.
Since the death of Jordan Brooks, Babcock said she’s seen overall improvements in how the department responds to cases. However, she believes more still needs to be done.
NewsChannel 9’s Adrienne Smith asked the deputy commissioner what her message is to future applicants who might have reservations about getting a job within the Oswego County Department of Social Services, specifically, following the criticism the department faced over the handling of Jordan Brooks’ death.
Despite the department’s efforts to hire and improve daily operations, some are still wondering how the system failed Jordan Brooks.
My message would be that our staff are tremendously committed to our mission. We’re here for the children, and we do our very best job to investigate every report that comes in. We have a lot of work to do, a lot of families to support, and we’re continually improving. There are going to be really tragic things that happen just because of the nature of the work that we do. I wouldn’t be disheartened by a lot of that. We have to continue to carry on because that’s our mission, that’s our calling, to continue to do what we do.MARTHA BABCOCK, DEPUTY COMMISSIONER, OSWEGO COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES
In addition to murder charges, Lisa and Anthony Waldron are charged with manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and endangering the welfare of a physically disabled person.
Oswego County District Attorney, Greg Oakes, confirmed to NewsChannel 9 that Lisa Waldron’s trial date is scheduled for the end of July. Anthony Waldron’s trial is set for April.
Both Lisa and Anthony have been out of jail after making bail last spring.