Kids Caught in Crossfire of Nassau County vs. Union Fight, Nonprofit Says

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Virginia Singletary shifts uneasily in her chair while thinking of how fellow at-risk parents may lose their children to foster care if Nassau County takes over the nonprofit-run program that helped her.Family Ties, run by the Family and Children’s Association (FCA), coached the 52-year-old Hempstead woman through what she called “crucial situations” as she tried to keep her family together, something the program has done for about 200 families annually over the past 20 years. But the program’s 28 social workers recently learned that Nassau plans to end its contract next March following an unrelated union dispute, officials said. That’s because the union that represents county Department of Social Services (DSS) workers last year won a grievance to take over a separate program, but county and union officials later agreed to have Nassau absorb Family Ties instead, officials said.“The word alone, DSS, gives me a jilt in my stomach,” Singletary said, adding that the agency hasn’t been as helpful to her as FCA. “I’m just feeling like the sheet has been pulled from under us.”In 2012, the Nassau County Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) Local 830 had filed a grievance arguing that the county didn’t give the union enough time to respond to a proposal to hire FCA to offer alternatives to children who are so disobedient that their parents, guardians or other authorities must file a Person In Need of Supervision (PINS) petition in Family Court.When approved, PINS petitions allow judges to place dangerously out-of-control minors in foster care, group homes or other facilities where they can get special behavioral treatment. To give kids subject to such petitions a chance to improve and remain with their family, New York State a decade ago mandated PINS Diversion—the counseling program that CSEA said DSS should handle, not FCA. The nonprofit’s PINS Diversion program is called Family Solutions.Last November Elliott Shriftman, a Southampton-based arbitration attorney, ruled in favor of CSEA. DSS officials said that the settlement hasn’t been finalized, but an informal agreement was reached allowing FCA’s $2 million Family Ties contract be converted to a county-run program instead of FCA’s $1.3 million Family Solutions contract. It’s unclear when that deal is expected to be finalized; Shriftman could not be reached for comment.“Pursuant to the interim award, and with the mediation of the arbitrator, preventive services were returned to union members rather than PINS Diversion,” said Karen Garber, a spokeswoman for Nassau DSS. “The PINS Diversion program serves an extremely at-risk population, and there was a desire to avoid disturbing services in that area.”Asked to explain how children facing foster care if their parents aren’t helped by the Family Ties program are less “extremely at-risk” than children facing foster care if their parents win a PINS petition, Garber conceded that both sets of clients face “the same level of risk.” She then said that DSS workers aren’t experienced enough to handle PINS Diversion cases.“Family Solutions offers a wider range of clinical services, whereby Family Ties offers a wider range of casework,” Garber said. “It was recognized during mediation that civil service titles within DSS’s child welfare division does not require clinical experience, which is necessary to manage PINS Diversion. Based on the arbitrator’s decision, it was determined that Family Solutions should remain intact, and CSEA members could perform preventive services.”Now it’s FCA staffers who feel like their family is being broken up by bureaucrats. They plan to rally,testify and hold a news conference on the issue before the county legislature holds its next meeting in Mineola on Monday.“Our staff and the kids in the community are being caught in the crossfire of a labor dispute between the county and the union,” said Jeffrey Reynolds, FCA’s president and CEO. He said that DSS Commissioner John Imhoff gave him the news on June 12.“It was like walking into a buzz saw,” Reynolds added, “because that program was never on the table.”Rich Dopkin, director of communications for the CSEA, said that since the award is not yet final, he could not address the specifics of the case, but he insisted that “no one is getting neglected.”The staff of Family Ties, FCA’s second-largest program in Nassau, touts a 98-percent success rate of keeping kids out of foster care. Likening their casework to a calling, they’re concerned about how well DSS social workers—who’ve seen multiple rounds of layoffs in recent years—will handle their clients.“It’s not just a job for us,” said Donna Teichner, assistant director of Family Ties, which is based in Hempstead. “It’s a mission.”last_img read more

Mobile banking tops internet banking: Malauzai

first_imgConsumers said they prefer mobile banking over Internet banking, and Android device users login to mobile banking more frequently than iPhone users, according to Malauzai Software’s February Monkey Insights report.The report from the Austin, Texas-based mobile and Internet banking provider highlighted key trends based on data from 350-plus banks and credit unions. It also covered seven million logins from more than 400,000 active Internet and mobile banking users. continue reading » 37SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img

Warren Buffett looks to Japan, takes 5% stakes in five trading companies

first_imgBerkshire Hathaway Inc said it has acquired slightly more than 5 percent of the shares in five large Japanese companies, marking a departure for Chairman Warren Buffett as he looks outside the United States to bolster his conglomerate.In a statement on Sunday, Buffett’s 90th birthday, Berkshire said it acquired its stakes in Itochu Corp, Marubeni Corp, Mitsubishi Corp, Mitsui & Co and Sumitomo Corp over approximately 12 months.Berkshire said it intends to hold the investments for the long term, and may boost its stakes to 9.9 percent. A Berkshire insurance business, National Indemnity Co, is holding the shares. “I am delighted to have Berkshire Hathaway participate in the future of Japan,” Buffett said in a statement. “The five major trading companies have many joint ventures throughout the world and are likely to have more…. I hope that in the future there may be opportunities of mutual benefit.”The Japanese investments will help Buffett reduce his Omaha, Nebraska-based conglomerate’s dependence on the United States economy, which last quarter suffered its deepest contraction in at least 73 years as the coronavirus pandemic took hold.Many of Berkshire’s own operating businesses have struggled, and Berkshire this month took a $9.8 billion writedown on its Precision Castparts aircraft parts business.Berkshire owns more than 90 businesses including the BNSF railroad and Geico car insurer outright.It also invests in dozens of companies including Apple Inc, with a roughly US$125 billion stake based on its holdings as of June 30, as well as American Express Co, Bank of America Corp and Coca-Cola Co.Most of Berkshire’s operating businesses are American, though it has acquired a handful of foreign companies including Israel’s IMC International Metalworking and German motorcycle apparel retailer Detlev Louis.Additional investments in Japan could also help Buffett reduce Berkshire’s cash stake, which ended June at a record $146.6 billionTopics :last_img read more

Euthanasia debate reignites in Parliament

first_imgNewsHub 14 September 2016The Care Alliance has told a health select committee legalising euthanasia and assisted suicide is unnecessary and dangerous.The committee has heard a second round of submissions on legislation to permit medically-assisted dying, “in the event of a terminal illness or an irreversible condition that makes life unbearable”.Former Labour MP Maryan Street proposed and championed the End of Life Choice Bill, along with Matt Vickers, partner of Lecretia Seales who died from a brain tumour after campaigning for the right to die.“We know not all deaths are good deaths but we believe we can improve services available to the terminally ill. Moving the bright line of prohibition on assisted suicide would create more problems than it would solve,” the Care Alliance, a group made up of palliative care doctors and nurses and Hospice New Zealand, said.Secretary Matthew Jansen said euthanasia and assisted suicide are unnecessary because palliative care works to alleviate the suffering of patients – “physically it works well”.Mr Jansen says more New Zealanders should get better access to higher quality services, but “we should never throw up hands and say ‘we can’t give you a perfect outcome, therefore we’ll give you a lethal injection’. [That’s] dangerous.”“We have a serious problem with suicide in this country, particularly among young people, Maori and older men. Our youth services are stretched beyond breaking point and it’s a disgrace.“We think it would be unconscionable for Parliament to give any suggestion to young people that suicide is a proper and approved response to suffering.”Dr Stephen Child, chairman of the New Zealand Medical Association, told the committee “in principle and practice we do not support a change in legislation”.“We completely respect patient autonomy, but it needs to be rational, fully informed, and without coercion. Decisions are often influenced by fear and circumstance which can affect decision-making.  Decisions can fluctuate but this is irreversible.“There are also clinical challenges – 10-15 percent show diagnoses are incorrect. Three percent of cancer diagnoses are incorrect. We are not always right in prognoses; our ability to predict is poor,” he says.“A patient’s capacity can be changed by brain metastases or drugs. Can you write a law to 100 percent protect the vulnerable?”He said it’s very difficult to determine what rational and irrational suicides are.“We believe in right of patients to have treatment withheld and prescribing of analgesics to relieve pain and suffering, even if that may hasten death, but we don’t support this law change.”The Medical Association represents the views of more than 5000 medical staff.Dr Sandu replied: “50 percent of people in the last census said they were religious, so yes it should be taken into account”.The Morgan Foundation told the committee it believes in choice within a regulated framework, “unless you have a very good reason to remove that choice”.“If you don’t allow assisted dying what is the alternative? It’s nil-by-mouth and it’s not pleasant.“The numbers that would be taken up by this option would be very small but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t grant it.”Others making submissions included Dr Khalid Sandu, medical doctor and chair of the Interfaith Council, who said we have a responsibility to make the terminally ill comfortable but not to allow them to take their lives.He cited the case of an 80-year-old diabetic man in poor health who was twice rushed to hospital with low blood sugar.“He raised his finger and said ‘don’t you do anything about it’. I did as he wished, left his flat, and he passed away that afternoon. This is an excellent example of palliative care with compassion.”Green MP Kevin Hague, who is on the committee, said many of the submissions opposing assisted suicide came from those with a religious faith.He asked Dr Sandu: “Is it your belief that a life belongs to God and therefore he decides? And should that shape New Zealand law?”Wendi Wicks and Robyn Hunt from ‘Not Dead Yet’ opposed assisted suicide on behalf of the disabled, saying attitudes are inherently negative towards the disabled and that “people say our lives are suffering. We don’t want legislation that says our lives are inherently worthy of dying”.They said the disabled make up 24 percent of the population and are New Zealand’s largest minority.“Eugenics under the Third Reich killed 6000 disabled people. It casts a long shadow when people say impairments we live with and live with well are worthy of dying.”Ms Hunt said there have been cases where ‘do not resuscitate’ has been put on a patient’s record without their knowledge.“It’s not the answer to disability, even when degenerative. They want access to good lives before a good death. Suicide data on the disabled is not gathered and there are no suicide prevention services for the disabled.”She says the Humanist Society supports non-religious people and a secular state; 41 percent of people declare themselves as not religious.“People have the right to choose a painless and dignified end.” read more