senate Bill S4441A

Amended

Relates to requiring child protective services to document home visits with photographs

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Bill Status


  • Introduced
  • In Committee
  • On Floor Calendar
    • Passed Senate
    • Passed Assembly
  • Delivered to Governor
  • Signed/Vetoed by Governor
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actions

  • 01 / Apr / 2013
    • REFERRED TO CHILDREN AND FAMILIES
  • 26 / Apr / 2013
    • AMEND AND RECOMMIT TO CHILDREN AND FAMILIES
  • 26 / Apr / 2013
    • PRINT NUMBER 4441A
  • 08 / Jan / 2014
    • REFERRED TO CHILDREN AND FAMILIES
  • 31 / Mar / 2014
    • AMEND AND RECOMMIT TO CHILDREN AND FAMILIES
  • 31 / Mar / 2014
    • PRINT NUMBER 4441B

Summary

Requires child protective services to document home visits as part of a treatment plan, supervision and monitoring, pursuant to a court order, or on an emergency basis with photographs.

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Bill Details

Versions:
S4441
S4441A
S4441B
Legislative Cycle:
2013-2014
Current Committee:
Senate Children And Families
Law Section:
Social Services Law
Laws Affected:
Amd ยงยง421 & 372, Soc Serv L

Sponsor Memo

BILL NUMBER:S4441A

TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the social services law, in relation
to requiring child protective services to document home visits with
photographs

PURPOSE:

To provide greater accountability and safety regarding caseworker
visits to children in the child protective services and foster care
system.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:

Section 1 of the bill provides that this bill shall be known and cited
as "Marchella Pierce's Law."

Section 2 amends section 421(3) of the Social Services Law, which
relates to the regulations that the Department of Social Services is
required to promulgate concerning the investigation of child abuse.
This section of the bill requires the Department of Social Services to
promulgate additional regulations to require caseworkers to perform
certain paperwork in connection with their visitation of children
under protective Supervision. Specifically, the regulations must
require each caseworker to document each such visit with a written
report detailing the apparent physical and emotional condition of the
child. Section 2 of the bill further requires the Department of Social
Services to issue regulations to establish minimum standards and
practices for the accurate and timely filing of this documentation in
confidential case records, including safeguards to prevent the
manipulation of these records.

Section 3 of the bill adds a new subdivision 4-c to section 372 of the
Social Services Law to provide that the documentation described in
section 2 of the bill shall also be kept and filed by caseworkers
involved in the supervision or monitoring of foster children.

Section 4 provides that this bill shall take effect immediately.

EXISTING LAW:

Current law requires the Department of Social Services to issue
regulations concerning the supervision and monitoring of abused
children. These regulations must include guidelines for when children
must undergo medical examination and when visibly injured children
must be photographed. Current law, however, does not require that
caseworkers document every contact they have with a child. Nor does it
require that the regulations promulgated by the Department of Social
Services contain safeguards to ensure that the documentation contained
in case records is safe from manipulation.

JUSTIFICATION:

Our child protective services system was designed to afford protection
through monitoring of abused or neglected children or children at risk
from abuse and neglect. Trained caseworkers are required to make
routine visits to such children in their homes or in the foster care


system to ensure that their protection. Sadly, even under the watch of
CPS, children "fall through the cracks," resulting in substantial harm
and sometimes death.

A 2012 case involving the death of Marchelia Pierce, a medically
fragile child in Brooklyn, highlighted the lack of adequate safeguards
in the supervision of at risk children. Prosecutors charged the
Administration of Children's Services (ACS) caseworker in Marchella's
death, alleging that he should have noticed the child's injuries and
malnourishment and that he changed records after her death to make it
seem like he visited her family when he did not make the visits for
months leading up to her death - months in which she was starved and
abused by her mother. In many ways, Marchella's case resembles the
tragedy of Nixmary Brown, a seven year-old Brooklyn girl killed by her
mother and stepfather in 2006 while she was being monitored by ACS.

These cases highlight the need for legislation to provide closer
oversight of child protective caseworkers. Specifically, legislation
is needed to ensure that the very small minority of caseworkers who
fail to live up to the high professional standards of child protective
agencies do not allow neglected and abused children to suffer. This
bill achieves that goal by requiring the Department of Social Services
to issue additional regulations requiring caseworkers to document
every contact they have with a child under agency supervision. Such
documentation shall consist of a description of the child's apparent
physical and emotional condition. This bill also requires regulations
to be promulgated requiring the timely and accurate filing of such
documentation in case files, as well as safeguards to prevent the
manipulation of case files-such as was alleged to have occurred in
Marchella Pierce's case.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:

Similar to S.5313B of 2011 - Passed Senate

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS:

None to the State.

EFFECTIVE DATE:

This bill shall apply immediately and shall take effect immediately.

view bill text
                    S T A T E   O F   N E W   Y O R K
________________________________________________________________________

                                 4441--A

                       2013-2014 Regular Sessions

                            I N  S E N A T E

                              April 1, 2013
                               ___________

Introduced  by  Sen.  GOLDEN -- read twice and ordered printed, and when
  printed to be committed to the Committee on Children and  Families  --
  committee  discharged,  bill amended, ordered reprinted as amended and
  recommitted to said committee

AN ACT to amend the social services law, in relation to requiring  child
  protective services to document home visits with photographs

  THE  PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM-
BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

  Section 1.  This act shall be known and may  be  cited  as  "Marchella
Pierce's Law".
  S  2.    Subdivision  3  of section 421 of the social services law, as
amended by chapter 718 of the laws of 1986, paragraph (a) as amended  by
chapter  110 of the laws of 1989 and the closing paragraph as amended by
chapter 320 of the laws of 1990, is amended to read as follows:
  3. promulgate regulations setting forth requirements for the  perform-
ance  by  local  social  services  departments  of the duties and powers
imposed and conferred upon them by the provisions of this title  and  of
article  ten  of  the family court act. Such regulations shall establish
uniform requirements for the investigation of reports of child abuse  or
maltreatment  under  this  title. The department shall also issue guide-
lines which shall set forth the circumstances or conditions under which:
  (a) personal contact shall be made with the child named in the  report
and  any  other  children  in the same household, including interviewing
such child or children absent the subject of the report whenever  possi-
ble and appropriate;
  (b) photographs of visible physical injuries or trauma of children who
may  be  the victims of abuse or maltreatment shall be taken or arranged
for;
  (c) medical examination of a child who may be a  victim  of  abuse  or
maltreatment and documentation of findings of such examination, shall be
required.

 EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                      [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                           LBD02005-03-3

S. 4441--A                          2

  The department shall promulgate regulations to establish standards for
intervention,  criteria  for  case  closings,  criteria  for determining
whether or not to initiate a child protective proceeding,  and  criteria
for  the  formulation  of  treatment plans and for the delivery of child
protective  services including specification of the services to be clas-
sified as child protective services, which shall also apply to any soci-
ety for the prevention of cruelty to children which has entered  into  a
currently  valid  contract with a local department of social services to
investigate child abuse or maltreatment reports.  The  department  shall
promulgate  regulations establishing minimum standards and practices for
the delivery of child protective services in connection with  monitoring
and  supervising  respondents  and their families as ordered by a family
court pursuant to section ten hundred thirty-nine  and  paragraphs  (i),
(iii),  (iv) and (v) of subdivision (a) of section ten hundred fifty-two
of the family court act.  THE DEPARTMENT SHALL REQUIRE THAT EVERY  CASE-
WORKER, CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES EMPLOYEE OR ANY PERSON ACTING PURSUANT
TO  A  CONTRACT FOR SERVICES WITH A LOCAL SOCIAL SERVICES DEPARTMENT WHO
HAS CONTACT WITH A CHILD AS PART OF A TREATMENT PLAN OR SUPERVISION  AND
MONITORING,  DOCUMENT  EACH  SUCH CONTACT WITH A PHOTOGRAPH TAKEN OF THE
CHILD DURING SUCH VISIT OR CONTACT USING A TABLET OR COMPARABLE  DEVICE.
SUCH  PHOTOGRAPH  SHALL BE PART OF THE CONFIDENTIAL CASE RECORD FOR SUCH
CHILD AND SHALL BE SUBJECT TO PERIODIC REVIEW BY THE SUPERVISOR  OF  THE
CASE.  SUCH PHOTOGRAPH MUST BE OF SUFFICIENT QUALITY TO CLEARLY IDENTIFY
THE CHILD, AND CONTAIN ACCURATE DATA WITH REGARD TO THE TIME AND DATE OF
THE PHOTOGRAPH. THE SUPERVISING AUTHORITY MAY  REQUIRE,  TO  THE  EXTENT
PRACTICABLE,  THAT  THE  CASEWORKER  UTILIZE TECHNOLOGY ALLOWING FOR THE
GEOGRAPHIC DOCUMENTATION OF SAID VISIT.  Such regulations REQUIRED UNDER
THIS SUBDIVISION shall also require local child protective  services  to
comply  with  notification  requirements  of  the  family  court  act in
connection with such monitoring and supervisory responsibilities.
  S 3. Section 372 of the social services law is amended by adding a new
subdivision 4-c to read as follows:
  4-C. THE RECORDS MAINTAINED PURSUANT TO THIS SECTION BY ANY  CASEWORK-
ER,  CHILD  PROTECTIVE SERVICES EMPLOYEE OR AUTHORIZED AGENCY AS DEFINED
IN SECTION THREE HUNDRED SEVENTY-ONE OF THIS TITLE WHO HAS CONTACT  WITH
A  FOSTER  CHILD AS PART OF A TREATMENT PLAN OR SUPERVISION AND MONITOR-
ING, SHALL DOCUMENT EACH SUCH CONTACT WITH A  PHOTOGRAPH  TAKEN  OF  THE
CHILD  DURING SUCH VISIT OR CONTACT CONSISTENT WITH THE REQUIREMENTS SET
FORTH IN SUBDIVISION THREE OF SECTION FOUR HUNDRED  TWENTY-ONE  OF  THIS
ARTICLE.
  S 4. This act shall take effect immediately.

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