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Letter: Plan to help runaways is a win-win for county

Plan to help runaways is a win-win for county

The Poloncarz administration should be congratulated for its work regarding runaway youth, as was reported in a recent News article. This service-oriented approach used by Erie County models national best practices. Studies have demonstrated that this approach produces better outcomes for children and families, while saving taxpayer dollars, a win-win scenario.

Under the leadership of Social Services Commissioner Al Dirschberger and Family Court Judge Brenda Freedman, a strong partnership involving social services, probation, mental health, law enforcement, the courts and community members makes this possible.

The interdepartmental Family Services Team members provide a great service to the community, families and children. An important element is they divert youth from entering the “school to prison pipeline” and penetrating “the system.” This is just one such identifiable entry point into the juvenile justice system that can be nearly closed.

The News also recently reported on the Racial Equity Roundtable report, the Equity Divide. That report details the many data points in the community concerning concentrated poverty, educational challenges and racial divide. It concludes that the region’s future economic prosperity hinges on our resolving these issues together as a community.

Viewing the Runaways Youth Report through the lens of the Equity Divide gives faces to the data points, specific names and faces to those generally identified in the Roundtable’s report. The challenge for us as a community is to garner the effort of the Buffalo Public Schools, Say Yes to Education, faith community, local employers and all to assist these individuals, family members and neighbors. These individuals in the main need educational and skills training supports, and ready jobs at livable wages.

We need to give life to the Roundtable’s findings. Use the report as a yardstick for seemingly small, daily interactions into the broader view of a more prosperous and equitable community.

Paul G. Buchanan

Family Court Judge, Retired


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