2005 Dutchess County Mother's Day sign now

The 2005 Dutchess County Mother's Day Petition

"Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home - so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world."

-- Eleanor Roosevelt

TWO QUESTIONS...

1. Do you think it's acceptable that "324 families were denied shelter" from Grace Smith House for Battered Women last year here in Dutchess County?

[The number is from Pamela Kravetz, Project Coordinator for a Universal Response to Domestic Violence in our county District Attorney's office, who stated this number in her report to our County Legislature on April 7th on behalf of our county's Citizens' Advisory Committee on Domestic Violence-- scroll down to read the entire report at bottom of this petition.]

We don't. This number is unconscionable-- period.

Note-- this petition is not an attack on anyone associated with Grace Smith House; they are good, caring advocates who work hard and are not to blame for their current lack of governmental funding.

This petition is, however, a wake-up call to leadership at the county, state, and federal levels who have obviously abdicated their responsibility to adequately fund shelter/housing for these families fleeing dangerous situations.

The first step towards addressing and solving this problem is to bring as many minds together to brainstorm and work on it.

And the first step towards that is publicizing the facts of the situation-- making sure as many county residents as possible are aware of it.

One step towards a solution might be a referendum on the ballot in November asking voters to approve our county's bonding out to ensure housing to shelter those families.

Let the truth be known throughout our county on this horrible state of affairs.

Never again should this happen here in Dutchess County!

Note as well this paragraph from the report's recommendations:

"Since 2001, the Citizens Advisory Committee has been very concerned with the effects of the housing market on domestic violence victims ability to leave a violent situation and secure affordable apartments. We are aware that this problem affects many people in Dutchess County beyond domestic violence victims. Two years ago we advocated for the County Legislature to establish an advisory committee not unlike the Domestic Violence Advisory Committee to address this problem. It is our understanding that this committee was established, met twice, and disbanded without a written report to the Legislature."

Our County Legislature should delay no longer in establishing a Housing Advisory Committee to this end!

---------------------------------------------

[Note-- much of the facts and wording for this section here below is from the National Committee on Pay Equity and the National Council of Women's Organizations: Pay-Equity.org; WomensOrganizations.org.]

2. Do you think it's OK that women continue to be paid 20 percent less than men on the job-- even when accounting for demographic and work-related factors such as occupation, industry, race, marital status, and job tenure?

Here in the county of Eleanor Roosevelt, our county's leaders should wait no longer to push Albany to pass a Pay Parity Act to make sure women are paid fairly and equally on the job in our county and across our state.

County Legislator Joel Tyner has also been in conversation with our county's Personnel Department on this issue, and continues to gather local data on this -- towards a county-specific proposal as well that echoes the proposal for the state memorialized below.

Tyner submitted this resolution just a bit below on April 5th; contact our County Legislature at [email protected] and [email protected] to make a difference on this.

The General Accounting Office's October 2003 report "Women's Earnings", which examined 18 years of data, found a 20 percent earnings gap between women and men that could not be explained, even when accounting for demographic and work-related factors such as occupation, industry, race, marital status and job tenure. This gap is attributable to discrimination; certain jobs pay less simply because they are held by women and people of color.

In 1963, when the Equal Pay Act was signed, women made 59 cents on average for every dollar earned by men (based on Census figures of median wages of full-time, year-round workers). By 2002, women earned 77 cents to the dollar, a narrowing of the wage gap by less than half a cent a year. Over a working lifetime, this wage disparity costs the average American woman and her family an estimated $523,000 in lost wages, impacting Social Security benefits and pensions.

Pay equityevaluating and compensating jobs based on their skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions, and not on the people who hold the jobsis a solution to eliminating wage discrimination and closing the wage gap.

Unequal pay takes a significant toll on working women and their families, reports the Institute for Women's Policy Research. "Still a Man's Labor Market: The Long-Term Earnings Gap" finds women's total earnings over their prime working years average only 38 percent of what prime-age men earn due to a combination of lower pay, more part-time work and time out of the workforce to care for children. The typical prime-age working woman earned $273,592 between 1983 and 1998 while the typical working man earned $722,693.

------------------------------------------------------

"40 Years After the Pay Equity Act, Women Still Earn Less Than Men"
by Martha Burk of WomensOrganizations.org

On April 19, four days after tax returns for 2004 are due, U.S. women will finally reach the earnings mark that their male counterparts achieved by Dec. 31 of last year. Dubbed "Pay Inequity Awareness Day," April 19 reminds us that the 60 million working women in this country are suffering economically because equal pay is still not a reality.

Women have made some gains in corporate board memberships -- they're now an underwhelming 13.6 percent, up from 9.5 percent in 1995. And no doubt because women get tired of fighting the "men and good ol' boys first" mentality at most companies, new business start-ups by women are at an all-time high.

But these successes for a relative few women pale in comparison to the outrageous pay inequity that exists for their sisters in the everyday workforce. The National Committee on Pay Equity reminds us that even though the Equal Pay Act was passed more than 40 years ago, women working full time, year round, still make only 76 cents for every dollar that a man makes.

It's even worse if your skin happens to be black or brown. Black women get 66 cents and Latinos only 55 cents. Even the best-case 24-cent gap adds up over a work life to a very unequal scorecard. Totaling more than $300,000 for the average woman's career, it can mean the difference between owning a home or renting, sending your kids to college vs. sending them to flip burgers, and a decent retirement vs. penury in old age.

Naysayers claim there really is no pay gap -- the shortfall is due to "choices" women make. Women just naturally like the jobs with lower pay or less risk? Tell that to the women cleaning toilets at the airport or caring for HIV patients in hospitals every day. And those who refuse to believe there's a pay gap ignore reality: In every field, from law and medicine to teaching or clerking at department stores, the women make less for doing exactly the same work as the men.

Another argument is that motherhood -- not sex discrimination -- is the real culprit. If that's so, we all need to take a hard look at why the workplace punishes women for being mothers, but fatherhood carries no economic risk at all. Shortchanging women means shortchanging men and children as well. In the present climate of encouraging economic self-sufficiency and focusing on family well-being, righting the wrongs of unequal pay seems like a no-brainer. The Fair Pay Act, a bill to level the paying field, has been a perennial on Capitol Hill since 1996. The FPA would outlaw discrimination in pay for jobs that are equal in skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions, even if the actual work is dissimilar. Perhaps more important, the bill would require employers to release summary statistics on what they pay women and men, so workers would know where they stood in the workforce.

But why wait for an act of Congress? Corporations that claim to favor fairness in the workplace should be glad to take an honest look at their pay practices and correct disparities now. Those that have nothing to hide should be proud for the world to know that they pay all workers according to merit, not the color of their skin or their sex. Right now, women who suspect pay discrimination must file a lawsuit and go into a drawn-out legal discovery process to find out whether they make less than the guy beside them. With pay statistics readily available, this expensive process could be avoided. Employers holler constantly about "frivolous lawsuits" and complain about over-regulation. Both would surely stop if employees (including white men) could see up front that they were being treated fairly.

Throughout April, state and local committees around the country are organizing events to call attention to the lighter pay envelopes of women. Wearing buttons that ask "Where's my 24 cents?" participants will be part of educational forums and speak-outs. Maybe while they're at it, women could ask for a credit on their income-tax returns.

------------------------------------------------------

FOR PAY PARITY FOR ALL WORKERS IN DUTCHESS COUNTY AND NEW YORK STATE

[note-- much of below from memos for two pertinent Assembly bills:
Assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?bn=A00305 ;
Assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?bn=A06506 ]

WHEREAS, while newspapers carry banner headlines about the advances women have made in the work force, the fact is, women's wages continue to lag far behind men's; the economic position of women on the whole has deteriorated, despite affirmative action and equal pay laws, and the movement of some women into a few traditionally male-dominated occupations, and

WHEREAS, today, half of all men earn over $15,000 a year, yet 90\% of
all women who work outside the home make less than $15,000 a year; the national Advisory Council on Economic Opportunity has cited women's low wages as a major cause of female poverty, and

WHEREAS, a U.S. Department of Labor study concluded that if wives and female heads of households were paid the same wages as similarly qualified men, about half the families living in poverty would no longer be poor.

WHEREAS, there is a myth that the earnings gap between men and women is closing as more women join the labor market; in fact, the gap has widened during the past 25 years; in 1955, women working full time and year round earned 64 cents for every dollar earned by a man; in 1981, they brought home only 59 cents for each dollar, and

WHEREAS, more than half of all women work in occupations which are over 70\% female, and 25\% are in jobs which are more than 95\% female; the National Academy of Sciences, which has conducted the most authoritative study to date on comparable worth, found that "the more an occupation is dominated by women, the less it pays"; the Academy concluded that sex discrimination is deeply imbedded in our society's wage structures and in our so-called free market system, and

WHEREAS, only a portion of the difference between men's and women's pay can be attributed to measurable differences in women's and men's characteristics, while the remainder of the pay gap is most likely due to systematic sex discrimination; That is the inference that a reader can take away from a study conducted by the Government Accounting Office (GAO), which analyzed data from 1983 through 2000 to find a wage gap of 44 percent (that is, women are paid about 44 percent less than men in any given year over that period including both full-time and part-time workers, men and women), and

WHEREAS, a statistical model was used to identify the factors that may contribute to the wage disparity; Work experience, education, occupation and industry and other demographic and job
characteristics, the model explains about half of the wage difference.
But about 20 percent of that difference remains unexplained, and

WHEREAS, previous research findings are confirmed that a substantial part of women's pay disadvantage is not related to how many hours they work, whether they are married or have children or how many years they've been in the labor market, according to Dr. Heidi Hartmann, President of the Institute for Women's Policy Research; discrimination is the most likely explanation for the remaining difference, and

WHEREAS, there are 9,000,000 women-owned businesses in the U.S. that employ 27.5 million people and generate $3.6 trillion sales annually; yet, 70 percent of all U.S. women are paid less than $25,000 a year and fewer than two percent receive more than $75,000 a year; only four percent of the top earners at Fortune 500 companies are women and women fill only 7.3 percent of all line positions held by corporate officers, and

WHEREAS, the National Advisory Council on Economic Opportunity has cited women's low wages as a major cause of female poverty; a U.S. Department of Labor study concluded that if wives and female heads of households were paid the same wages as similarly qualified men, about half the families living in poverty would no longer be poor, and

WHEREAS, while the salary gap between men and women went down 3\% in 2004, the 2004 IRS CareerBank Annual Survey states that women are presently earning 25\% less than men for the same work, and

WHEREAS, legislation calling for pay parity for women has passed the Assembly almost every year for the past seven years, and therefore be it

RESOLVED, that the Dutchess County Legislature hereby calls on our state legislature to enact A.305, and for the Governor to sign into law, such legislation that mandates pay parity for women; such legislation would seek to comply with the federal equal pay act of 1963 by implementing a state policy of compensating employees in state service equally for work of comparable value by eliminating wage inequality in job titles having been segregated by sex, race or national origin; requires the president of the civil service commission to report annually to the legislature and the governor on those segregated titles for which wage disparity exists; and mandates governor to appropriate monies to ensure wage disparities are corrected, and

RESOLVED, that a copy of this resolution be sent to County Executive William Steinhaus, Governor George E. Pataki, Senators Stephen M. Saland and Vincent Leibell, Assemblymen Thomas Kirwan, Joel M. Miller, Patrick R. Manning, Willis H. Stephens Jr., and Kevin Cahill.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

MID-YEAR REPORT TO THE DUTCHESS COUNTY LEGISLATURE

SUBMITTED BY

THE DUTCHESS COUNTY CITIZENS ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

APRIL 2005

MEMBERS
DEPUTY SHERIFF MATTHEW BURHANS
JUDITH BLEAKLEY ONEILL
KATHY GRAHAM
MARY LOU HEISSENBUTTEL
WALTER KEADY
PAMELA KRAVETZ, CHAIR
JUDITH LOMBARDI
BRENDA MOORE
JOAN POSNER
ROBERT ROLISON
MOLLY SHANLEY
MARJORIE SMITH

INTRODUCTION

"DOMESTIC ABUSE IS NOT A PROBLEM OF INDIVIDUALS WHO CAN BE TREATED AND MADE WELL. IT IS CAUSED BY THE ATTITUDES AND CONDITIONS TOLERATED AND OFTEN CONDONED BY OUR SOCIETY. A WOMAN ATTEMPTING TO LEAVE A RELATIONSHIP MUST FIND A WAY TO DEAL NOT ONLY WITH HER ABUSER, BUT ALSO WITH THE PREVAILING ATTITUDE OF HER COMMUNITY. UNDERSTANDING HOW TO WORK WITH AN ABUSED WOMAN IS IMPORTANT; UNDERSTANDING THAT TO END DOMESTIC VIOLENCE YOU MUST WORK TO CHANGE SOCIETY IS JUST AS IMPORTANT." Juliet Holmes-Smith, The Family Crisis Shelter Newsletter, Summer 1993

This report is intended to update the Dutchess County Legislature on the domestic violence initiatives recently funded by the County in fiscal year 2005 and to provide direction for further inquiry. The last formal report by the committee was in July 2001, although we have appeared before the Legislature several times since regarding issue-specific concerns.


NEW YORK STATE AND DUTCHESS COUNTY DOMESTIC VIOLENCE STATISTICS

In 2003, 5,959 battered women and 7,480 children received residential services from New York State domestic violence programs, and 25,168 women and 11,977 children received non-residential services. A total of 24,558 women and children were denied emergency shelter, primarily due to lack of space. (NYS Office of Children and Family Services, Annual Report to the Governor and Legislature, 2003, 6-7)

In 2004, there were 4,333 reported domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse incidents reported to Dutchess County law enforcement and 1,316 cases received by the Dutchess County District Attorneys Office for prosecution.


LOCAL UTILIZATION OF SERVICES

The Battered Womens Services (BWS) Program transitioned from the YWCA of Dutchess County to Family Services, Inc. on June 1, 2004 without an interruption of service to victims. During 2004, BWS provided services to a total of 2,842 clients and received 13,523 calls to the 24-hour hotline.

In 2004, Grace Smith House, Inc. housed a total of 133 women and 135 children at the two shelter locations in Dutchess County. 25\% of the women who received shelter services were employed at the time of intake. 324 families were denied shelter. The Brookhaven transitional-housing program served 18 families. Grace Smith House received 1,083 hotline calls on the 24-hour hotline and served 88 women and 173 children through the Follow-up/Non-Residential Program.

STATUS OF RECENTLY FUNDED PROGRAMS

Domestic Violence/Child Protective Services Liaison
The Liaison position was developed as a direct result of the County Legislatures Child Protection Commission investigation of Child Protective Services. One of the recommendations of the domestic violence service providers and the Citizens Advisory Committee was this creation of a position to enhance communication between childrens services and the domestic violence community. As there is so much overlap between domestic violence and CPS cases, it seemed logical to establish a position where CPS workers would have more resources, and be better trained and more informed on issues relating to domestic violence.

The DV/CPS Liaison, Carol Leiserson, began working in the Department of Social Services in March 2004. She has consulted on 158 cases involving domestic violence, and has provided in-service education and professional journal articles to childrens services personnel. Each consultation involves a home visit, a domestic violence assessment, safety planning, and referrals for services as appropriate. Ms. Leiserson is currently attending Child Protective Services Core Training in Albany, NY in order to gain an in depth understanding of the CPS workers role. In addition, Ms. Leiserson participates in the monthly Brown Bag Lunch discussions with domestic violence service providers, childrens service workers and the Project Coordinator for a Universal Response to Domestic Violence. The position has been instrumental in enhancing the collaborative working relationships between the domestic violence community and Childrens Services. She is currently working to address system gaps such as allowing Child Protective Services Supervisors to access perpetrators histories of domestic violence and criminal histories. Ms. Leiserson will also participate in the upcoming Domestic Violence-Childrens Services Cross-Training.


Supervised Visitation

In 2003, the YWCA Supervised Visitation Program experienced a significant loss in funding. A resolution for emergency funding was proposed to the Dutchess County Legislature and passed, allowing the program to continue to function at a reduced capacity. Throughout 2004, the YWCA continued to experience the effects of decreasing resources from the previous year. The Program Director was instructed to devise a way to manage the Court referrals, while also maintaining safe staffing levels to adequately serve families, with a considerably reduced budget. The result was a restructured visitation schedule removing one evening per week, and 2 time slots from the weekend. On February 4, 2005, the YWCA suspended all operations leaving approximately 37 families utilizing program services un-served. The Supervised Visitation Programs contract with New York State is currently being transferred to Family Services, Inc so the program can resume operation. An official reopening date has not been determined, but is tentatively scheduled for May 1, 2005. Despite these obstacles, the Supervised Visitation Program was able to provide a safe environment for 160 children to visit with their non-custodial parents in 2004.


Domestic Abuse Response Team (DART)

With the additional funding from the County, the Domestic Abuse Response Team project has been expanded to cover the Town of Poughkeepsie and the City of Beacon in addition to the City of Poughkeepsie. An outreach worker from the DAs Office, an advocate from the Battered Womens Services program of Family Services, Inc., a specialized domestic violence Probation Officer and a Town of Poughkeepsie Police Officer and City of Beacon Police Officer have all been assigned to the teams. In 2004, 1,258 calls were placed by the police across all 3 DART jurisdictions to the Battered Womens Services 24-hour hotline on behalf of the victim. As a result, 392 victims in these 3 jurisdictions accepted and received services from the Battered Womens Services program (including advocacy, shelter, crisis counseling, support group and child care.) The early intervention with victims is having a positive impact on the criminal prosecution of these cases as it enhances the victims experiences with the justice system and encourages them to stay on board with the support that they need. Probation continues to interview defendants within 24 hours of arrest, whenever possible, and provides pertinent legal and social information to the Court. In 2004, the Domestic Violence Probation Officer conducted 124 pre-arraignment interviews with defendants and made 208 recommendations to the judge regarding bail and release options. A total of 326 cases were formally conferenced at least once across the three DART jurisdictions. The Project Coordinator has developed a research program to track DART case outcomes in the City of Poughkeepsie and results will be available within six months.

Many police agencies in the County have expressed interest in expanding DART to their jurisdictions. For example, Hyde Park Police Chief James McKenna and Lieutenant Don Goddard recently met with the DART Project Coordinator, the Special Victims Bureau Chief at the District Attorneys Office, the Director of Battered Womens Services of Family Services, Inc., and the City of Poughkeepsie Sergeant assigned to DART to discuss ways to integrate pieces of the project in Hyde Park. It was decided that the Hyde Park Police Department will phase in a policy of calling the Battered Womens Services 24-hour Hotline when Officers respond to intimate partner domestic incidents. Battered Womens Services has designated a staff member to act as a contact person for the Hyde Park Police Department. Additional aspects of the DART project will be incorporated as funding and personnel become available.

While the project does not currently have the capacity to expand fully to other jurisdictions given present funding, personnel and court-structure constraints, project staff are consistently reminding police agencies that any officer can always call the 24-hour hotline for assistance with a domestic violence case regardless of whether or not it is a DART jurisdiction. Project staff will continue to work with police agencies on ways to incorporate feasible aspects of the DART project in their areas.


Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (SAFE)/ Forensic Nurse Examiner (FNE) Projects

The SAFE/FNE Projects standardize the level of medical attention sexual assault and domestic violence victims receive after being attacked. Specially trained medical staff, who are on call 24-hours a day, seven days a week, provide medical care and collect forensic evidence. Rather than being made to sit in a crowded, public waiting room, victims and their volunteer advocates have the use of a private, specially designated waiting area. Victims are treated in an examination room with a private shower and a fresh change of clothing. These invaluable services to sexual assault and domestic violence victims help to restore their dignity and sense of control over their lives. The improved evidence collection and testimony by trained examiners improve the possibility of prosecuting sexual and domestic violence offenders.

In 2003 and 2004, the SAFE/FNE program performed 72 FNE exams and 170 SAFE exams. Exams were conducted on victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, physical child abuse, physical assault, and child sexual abuse. Thirty percent of all cases came from the City of Poughkeepsie.

Family Services, Inc. conducted a Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner training in 2004. A total of 5 nurses are currently in various stages of completing their clinical preceptorships. In addition, Family Services Inc SAFE/FNE Program recently became the first program outside of NYC to be certified as a Department of Health SAFE Training Program. There is currently only one other DOH certified programs in New York State.

Domestic Violence Unit at Legal Services of the Hudson Valley

Legal Services of the Hudson Valley represents victims of domestic violence through three county/state-funded projects administered through subcontracts with Grace Smith House, Inc. The project had a very successful year under all three projects due to the hard work of staff attorneys Christal Camaj, Catherine Melone and Stella Isaza and Managing Attorney, Jaqueline Frost. Program results for 2004 are as follows:

1. Domestic Violence Family Court Project: The demand for Family Court representation continues to exceed what the project can cover. However, Legal Services of the Hudson Valley works to the best of its ability to meet the needs of domestic violence victims through the Family Court Project. Last year, 190 victims received necessary legal services ranging from advice and counsel to full representation on family offense, custody, visitation and certain spousal and child support cases. The project goal of 100 clients was exceeded by almost 100\%.

2. Domestic Violence Divorce Project: This project involves the direct representation of either plaintiffs or defendants in divorce actions by a staff attorney. The program provided 84 victims with necessary legal services, again ranging from advice and counsel to full representation in divorce actions. Through the project, 60 final dispositions were obtained for these victims.

3. Domestic Violence Pro Bono Divorce Project: Last year, this project provided a necessary service to 80 victims of domestic violence, and 32 obtained divorces through the efforts of local volunteer attorneys. There are currently 18 victims on the waiting list to receive assistance through this program. These cases have completed the intake process and will be assigned to volunteers as they become available. Over the past several years, the list has been drastically reduced from the hundreds of victims previously awaiting services. Legal Services of the Hudson Valley has set a goal for 2005 to dedicate significant energy to enlarging the volunteer pool by giving presentations to local bar associations in an effort to recruit attorneys.


RECOMMENDATIONS AND CONCLUSION

Housing

Since 2001, the Citizens Advisory Committee has been very concerned with the effects of the housing market on domestic violence victims ability to leave a violent situation and secure affordable apartments. We are aware that this problem affects many people in Dutchess County beyond domestic violence victims. Two years ago we advocated for the County Legislature to establish an advisory committee not unlike the Domestic Violence Advisory Committee to address this problem. It is our understanding that this committee was established, met twice, and disbanded without a written report to the Legislature.

Housing issues continue to plague domestic violence victims attempting to leave violent situations. With a 2 bedroom apartment at Fair Market Rent (FMR) in Dutchess County costing $942 per month, and a monthly public assistance grant for a family of three at $579, it is not hard to see how apartments in this community are unaffordable for our poorest citizens. Also, it is estimated that a person would need to work 121 hours per week at a minimum wage job to afford a two-bedroom apartment at FMR in Dutchess County. We are among the 10 highest counties in the state, including the New York City boroughs, with regard to housing costs.

We continue to urge the Dutchess County Legislature to take a leadership role on this crucial issue of housing.

Continue to Fund Current Programs

This committee recommends that the legislature continue its support of currently funded programs throughout 2005 and into the future.

In conclusion, the Citizens Advisory Committee would like to encourage the Legislature to continue to utilize this group as a resource with regards to issues relating to domestic violence. We consider it a privilege to serve our community in this function and are energized by the cutting-edge and model programs supported by Dutchess County.


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