Herkimer County receives national recognition for work with at-risk youth


HERKIMER COUNTY, N.Y. (WKTV) - After researching more than 100 communities, the White House has recognized Herkimer County for its "Community Collaboration Initiative."

Herkimer County is just one of 12 communities across the country that the White House has recognized for its programs to help families and at-risk children. It is a recognition that Herkimer County Administrator James Wallace says is a tremendous honor.

"You know, when you look at Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago all the big cities and then little Herkimer County, (it's) a tremendous honor for us."

Since 1998, Herkimer County has had an integrated county planning initiative in place, focused on improving outcomes for children by keeping them out of residential placements and back to their families.

Working with schools, law enforcement and agencies like Kids Herkimer, Wallace says that the county has been able to continue the programs even without state funding , thanks to their results and the money they save.

"138 foster kids back in May of 2003. Today, 64 foster kids," Wallace said. "Tremendous savings over 12,000 care days for kids, and today, we have about 6,000 care days. So we've been able to save over the last couple years about $2 million, both in state and county government."

Wallace says he thinks that the White House recognized them because they were able to document change, money saving change, that he says has convinced the county legislature to continue to support the collaboration programs, as well.

"Because of the fact that we've been able to prove that we can save money, the legislature is willing to spend a few dollars upfront to try and save money in the future," Wallace said.

Recently, Herkimer was one of only four communities statewide to receive a grant to document every service they provide, allowing them to show real costs, numbers, and benefits to taxpayers.

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