‘We want to help:’ Retired family court judges reviewing CPS workers’ cases

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) – With over 16 years on the bench and thousands of cases decided, retired Family Court Judge Martha Mulroy is using her perspective and knowledge to review files of Onondaga County child protective caseworkers.

“I love being involved face-to-face with our community. Other courts are at an arm’s length, and you don’t have that much contact with people, but this was a way to have an immediate effect on people’s lives, and I like that,” Mulroy said.

Mulroy and retired Family Court Judge Martha Walsh Hood are tasked with reviewing cases specifically handled by the two workers from Ashton Degonzaque’s case, along with a more comprehensive review.

“Our cases involved a number of caseworkers and not always the same case workers, but our emphasis was over the past year, just to have a look back to see if there was something that maybe we should have looked at again to do differently,” Mulroy said.

Looking at the system as a whole, Mulroy says there is always room for improvement, starting with raising expectations for all.

“I think having children in middle school and in high school know that we have an expectation that they’re going to go on and be healthy, happy, productive citizens. That’s our expectation. It should start in the home, but if not, we’ll be a community and lift them up. I really believe we can do that,” Mulroy explained.

And closely look at whether better communication is needed in a system set up to protect children from abuse and neglect.

“Well, I hope there’s going to be a greater communication between the agencies. The services are out there to help these family units that are desperate, in need of some kind of structure.”

Mulroy and Walsh-Hood have reviewed 160 cases. They will have their report ready for the county executive on Friday, March 29.

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