“Project Strength” is a new initiative through the Erie County Public Defender’s Office aimed at reducing the number of out-of-home placements for children resulting from child dependency/neglect cases and truancy issues. The goal of the program is to connect families and children to resources sooner, including legal assistance, to increase the chances of positive outcomes.
Our team will consist of Public Defender, Jeffrey Whitacre, Assistant Public Defenders, Kelli Jelinger and Robert Ritzler; Licensed Social Worker, Emily Foreman, and a parent peer support advocate to provide a holistic approach to address each family’s individual needs. Our team will work collaboratively to identify families in need with our community partners and work to link them to needed community resources.
Our main objectives will be to 1) identify families prior to a child dependency case; 2) Assist in connecting families to needed services 3) reduce the number of removal cases resulting from truancy and contributing to delinquency of a minor 4) provide families with pre-petition services; 5) produce better outcomes to strengthen families, schools, and the community at large.