Photo (L-R) Sally Diaz; Kathryn Muller
BATH -- A woman who has spent 23 years working with the victims of domestic violence in Steuben County was honored Monday with the county’s 2016 Child Abuse Prevention Award.
Sally Diaz has worked in Arbor Development’s Domestic Violence Shelter since 1993, and has been an active member of the county’s Task Force for the Prevention of Child Abuse since it was formed, according to county Department of Social Services Commissioner Kathryn Muller.
Diaz was recognized by Muller during a presentation before the county Legislature Monday, as a part of the county’s April-long celebration of national Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Diaz was nominated for the award by Hornell Concern For Youth Director Susan Hooker, who cited Diaz’ willingness to go the extra mile, Muller said.
Her extra efforts include starting up a still-active support group for children at the shelter, volunteering at numerous Task Force functions, and donating supplies for the events.
"She brings comfort to those around her," Muller said. "Her commitment is demonstrated by the time she gives of herself through the endless hours of volunteering and her belief in the cause."
Child Abuse Prevention remains an essential goal in Steuben County, according to Steuben County Department of Social Services Commissioner Kathryn Muller.
"This is not easy work," Muller told the county Legislature Monday. "It comes with a multitude of challenges, system barriers and often heartbreak."
In her report to the Legislature, Muller said:
*Roughly 25 percent of the 22,000-23,000 youth – or 5,300 children -- living in Steuben County live below the federal poverty level.
*Half of those children living below the federal poverty level, live in "extreme poverty" where the total family income is 50 percent below the federal poverty level (or $12,150 for a family of four.)
* More than 50 percent of all school age children in Steuben are eligible for, and/or receive free or reduced school lunches.
* DSS receives, on average, 1,800 child protective reports per year with an average of 25 percent showing credible evidence of abuse and/or neglect.
* The severity of cases has dramatically increased, with health issues cited as the most prevalent, with alcohol and substance abuse leading factors in abuse.
* Through the collaboration of Task Force agencies, the number of children placed in foster care has dropped 50 percent.