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Erin Maxwell: Pivotal case for Oswego County social services system

Erin Maxwell was killed by her step brother in 2008 / CNYCentral file photo

The Oswego County District Attorney wants to keep a convicted child killer locked up.

Alan Jones killed his step sister, Erin Maxwell, back in 2008. The case sparked changes in the systems that were suppose to protect Maxwell, but failed.

The Oswego County Child Advocacy Center is dedicated to helping children and families suffering from aspects of abuse. Although, the center now says Erin Maxwell's death was a turning point in the way the handle their cases.

It's been almost a decade since one of the most brutal cases of child abuse and neglect in Oswego County, one that child advocacy workers like Karrie Damm say still haunts them.

"When the death of Erin Maxwell came out we were a very small agency. We had four people on staff, we had probably, 10 or 15 members of the multi-disciplinary team, who would come to the center, use the center. We were seeing probably about 200 kids a year," Karrie Damm, from the Child Advocacy Center in Oswego County said.

Damm says after Maxwell's death the small staff of the advocacy center had a wake up call. They then got more people armed with skills and resources on their team.

Now, nine years later the center sees about 500 kids a year.

"We've done a lot to make sure that we have qualified trained professionals and enough of them in order to respond to these outcries of abuse," Damm explained.

She also says herself along with her staff work closely with law enforcement, child protective services and other groups in an effort to help each other work out the best way to assist kids in abusive situations.

The center is now able to provide the long-term help that so many kids need with additional staff on hand.

Not only do they have extra help, but the center also has been granted the manpower to punish those responsible for child abuse.

"We do have adequate resources to be able to put some consequences and keep children safe," Damm said.

In addition to assisting with the prosecution, the Oswego County Child Advocacy Center is working to educate the community of signs of child abuse at home.

The center is expected to expand to a space of about 7,000 square feet, so they can keep working towards ending abuse.


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