Rather than comment on the past, Children's Village President and CEO Jeremy Kohomban hopes to make significant changes that will affect his agency's—and the village of Dobbs Ferry's—futures.
"I trust [Dobbs Fery Police Chief] Betsy Gelardi's word if she said there have been more police calls here in the last three years," Kohomban said. "I think these things are cyclical, but that there are many changes we plan to make that will make things better going forward."
According to Gelardi, there have been 277 "Missing Person's" reports filed by Children's Village staff in 2012. "This is a huge burden for us—especially because our department is down four officers," she said. That number does not include arrests or other police reports filed.
Gelardi has recently met with Kohomban to try to better understand the situation and hopefully reduce the stress on her department.
"We aren't sure exactly what the problem is, but we are sure things have to change," she said.
Kohomban attributes some of the extra calls to the agency being more fastidious about adhering to NY state mandates about reporting missing residents and incidents on his campus.
"While the laws haven't changed, they're being more strongly enforced," he said.
Unlike Graham-Windham and many similar agencies in Westchester, CV will continue to be an alternative to detention center—"because that is what we were founded as," Kohomban said.
But some changes that are in the works at Children's Village include: increasing the staff-to-student ratio, taking in more immigrant residents—changing the ratio of immigrant to domestic students who live on campus—and reducing the number of residents in each cottage.
"Reducing the number of students per cottage from 14-to-16 to 10-to-14 should make a huge difference," he said. However, making the transition is dependent on their procuring suffient funds.
"We've started a huge fund-raising effort," Kohomban said. "We hope to have raised enough to start this in 2013." He added that the agency has received no increase in the money provided for each student's room, board and education in more than three years.
Kohomban also mentioned that they had installed more security cameras on campus.
Gelardi stressed that her work with Children's Village should be a partnership—not adversarial.
"We know they do great work," she said. "Many of the problems have to do more with changing legislation."
committed to working with legislators and leaders of agencies like Children's Village and Graham-Windham to help address the situation.
"We first need to recognize exactly what the biggest problems are and address the ones that would make the greatest difference," she said. "We're very optimistic that we'll be able to work together on this."
Both Gelardi and Bloomer hope to have more information after their next meeting in July.