The New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) announced last week it will close the Great Valley Residential Center in Cattaraugus County in what the agency is calling an ongoing restructuring to significantly improve services to troubled children. OCFS has named five other facilities across the state that will be closed, reduced or merged with another facility.
Assemblyman Joe Giglio (R,I,C-Gowanda) says he will pursue every avenue possible to keep the facility open and continue its service for Cattaraugus County.
I will carefully evaluate the governors executive budget when it is released at the end of January to determine what options we have to maintain the operation of this important facility for our region, said Giglio.
The Great Valley Residential Center avoided closure last year despite Governor Eliot Spitzers recommendation that it be shut down in his 2007 executive budget.
Giglio has fought to keep Great Valley open in the past, saying it would not be in the best interest of the state or the youth whom it serves, should the facility close. New York State recently invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into sewer and water projects and many smaller upgrades at the facility. The Great Valley Center is one of only two facilities serving the placed youth of Region 1, which includes the counties of Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Allegany, Erie, Niagara, Orleans, Wyoming and Genesee.
The Great Valley Center always has been part of the community in Cattaraugus County, said Giglio. The safety and security of the community and, more importantly, the youth have always remained an utmost priority. Of the 31 OCFS employees at the Great Valley facility, zero AWOL incidents have been reported in the last seven years.
Giglio also stated, This facility has received great audit reviews in the past and has the ability to serve youth from a vast region of Western New York. It is my belief that the Office of Children & Family Services can achieve their goal of regionalized youth placement by continuing the operation of the Great Valley facility and also closely monitoring the costs associated with it.