Greco's murder triggers tough questions for NYS OCFS
The brutual murder of youth counselor Renee C. Greco has triggered tough questions by some New York State legislators who are pressing New York State Office of Family and Children Services (NYS OCFS) for an explanation of circumstances at Avenue House, the halfway house for troubled teens located in Lockport, NY, where Ms. Greco was allegedly brutally beaten by two teens, Anthony Allen and Robert Thousand, both of Rochester, New York.
State Assemblywoman Jane Corwin, R-Clarence, and state Sen. George Maziarz, R-Newfane, have a meeting scheduled with OCFS Deputy Commissioner Bill Getman in Albany next Monday to review OCFS/New Directions staffing and youth placement requirements. Their questions for the deputy commissioner are virtually identical:
Why was only one young adult overseeing six troubled teens during the late evening, when Greco was killed?
Did the scheduled closing of several secure youth facilities upstate, called for in the 2009-10 state budget, force placement of violence-prone youth offenders in non-secure surroundings?
“Was it suitable for these boys to be placed in an unsecured home? That’s one thing on my mind,” Corwin said. “
She and Maziarz both said the recently approved state budget called for a number of locked-down youth facilities to be closed as a money-saving measure. They want to know how many of those are in Western New York and whether the unavailability of secure beds is driving OCFS referrals to non-secure facilities.
Maziarz said he also wants a listing of other non-secure youth homes throughout Niagara County, as well as indications what the criteria are for classifying teen offenders as violent or non-violent.
“Clearly there are some tough questions for OCFS,” Maziarz said. “There ought to be some investigation of their policies and practices as well. ... (Greco) wasn’t all that much older than the (boys) she was put in charge of.”
OCFS shut down Avenue House — meaning it pulled New Directions’ home operating certificate — the day after Greco’s death. Remaining teen residents were moved to another location.
State Senator Catharine Young (R-Olean) has also called for an investigation into New York State Office of Family and Children Services, "to determine whether the two charged with murder had been placed appropriately in the group home."
Young, who suspects that Allen and Thousand were "higher-level offenders" has promised to call for Children and Family Services Commissioner Gladys Carrion to be removed or forced to resign if "...an investigation reveals such improper placements,..." (buffalonews.com 06/10/09).
Related stories on NowPublic by this Author:
Senator Young calls for state investigation into NYS OCFS