OSWEGO, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Oswego County’s Commissioner of Social Services says she won’t resign from criticism of her agency’s handling of child neglect death.
In her first television interview about the death of 17-year-old Jordan Brooks, DSS Commissioner Stacy Alvord tells NewsChannel 9 “it wasn’t just DSS” that could have protected him from his parents’ improper care.
Brooks’ parents were arrested this month for his May of 2021 death from malnutrition. Police say the teenager, who had cerebral palsy, was 55 pounds when died and suffering from widespread bedsores caused by his urine-soaked and moldy wheelchair. He had bone exposed through skin.
She said: “We had no reason to believe that Mrs. Waldron did not know what Jordan’s needs where. She was very clear, very articulate about what it is he needed, and for 17.5 years, provided the kind of care he needed. What went wrong there, in the family, it appears to me, that after we left, within that month, things spiraled down pretty quickly.”
The commissioner says, because of coronavirus and Jordan not going to school in person, her agency’s visits were likely the only time Jordan was seen by anyone but his family.
Normally, a child would be seen daily by teachers and other people who can report concerns.
“Everyone was doing the best we can,” says Alvord. “I do not want, in anyway, to blame any other provider or system, but if there was real concern that we were not seeing what we needed to see, we expect people to be able to reach out.”
Brooks’ death has already changed the way DSS operates. Immediately following, the agency changed what kind of caseworker responds to neglect reports of children who are considered medically frail.
Instead of an inexperienced caseworker, a member of the advanced Multi-Disciplinary Team handles the case.
Oswego County has requested New York State provide better training for caseworkers who handle advanced medical cases.
Alvord says the criticism of the Oswego County DSS is hurting her department. Five people have resigned in two weeks.