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It was just decided that all neglect/abuse and person in need of supervision cases heard in the Riverhead Family Court would be moved to Central Islip Family Court. If this decision is carried out, it will present a tremendous hardship for Retreat clients.

According to the Riverhead Family Court records, there were 383 neglect/abuse and PINS cases heard in 2007, an average of 32 cases a month. These numbers are a significant indicator that these services are needed on the East End. When domestic violence is a factor in a case, the Retreat collaborates with the eastern office of Child Protective Services, as well as the attorney, and others when necessary to develop a comprehensive plan of supportive services for the family within local networks.

Many of the Retreat’s clients rely on public transportation to get to their court dates. The East End of Long Island is comprised of approximately 350 square miles of territory, which lacks many of the convenient amenities that western Suffolk has to offer its residents. Lack of transportation is the largest hindrance in obtaining needed services in a timely manner. There are two modes of public transportation on the East End of Suffolk County: the Long Island Rail Road and the county bus system. The LIRR, on most days, runs twice a day—once early in the morning and once at night. The bus system runs continuously from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; however, there are very few stops per destination day, due to the large area encompassing the East End.

Families are already struggling with the current, unfortunate circumstances of their lives, without having to travel an additional 35 miles to get to court, or having to work with a network of services outside of their local area. The Riverhead Family Court currently satisfies many of the legal needs of families. It would be unfortunate to lose such quality services that so many on the East End depend on. Please help us overturn the transfer of neglect/abuse and PINS cases currently heard in the Riverhead Family Court to Central Islip.

Letters may be sent to the Honorable David Freundlich and Supreme Court Justice John P. Cohalan Jr., Courthouse 400, Central Islip, NY 11722.

LAUREN WALSHThe RetreatEast Hampton

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