senate Bill S4441B

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:S4441B

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 of the bill 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 or maltreatment. This section of the bill requires the
Department of Social Services to promulgate additional regulations to
require caseworkers to perform certain tasks in connection with their
visitation of children under a plan of treatment or supervision and
monitoring. Specifically, the regulations must require that each
caseworker to document each such with a photograph of the front door
of the residence where the child is domiciled at the time of the
visit. Additionally, the regulations must require that each caseworker
document visits using technology that provides geographic
documentation of the visit. Section 2 of the bill further provides
that if the child's parent or guardian objects to either the pictorial
or geographic documentation, the parent or guardian must sign a form
stating the objection, that the visit was conducted and that the
child's well-being was verified.

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 this bill shall also be kept and filed by caseworkers
involved in the treatment plan or supervision and 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 photo- graphed. 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
Child Protective Services, 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.

In January of this year, 4-year old Myls Dobson was tortured for three
weeks prior to his death at the hands of the caregiver who had custody
of Myls while his father was in jail. Until August 2013, Myls was
monitored by ACS pursuant to a Court order granting his father custody
in the wake of abuse charges leveled against his then-custodian
mother. An investigation into Myls' death found that ACS did not know
that Myls' father was in jail while under ACS supervision. This
failure to recognize that Myls was at risk allowed Myls to be cared
for by the woman who tortured and ultimately killed him.

In February of this year, Kevasia Edwards was found unresponsive and
unconscious at her home in Far Rockaway. The two-year old, along with
her four siblings, had previously been removed from her mother's care.
On January 23, 2014, the Queens Family Court allowed Kevasia and her
siblings to remain in their mother's care because she had shown
improvement during the court-ordered therapy and parenting classes
that were required due to abuse and neglect charges. Eleven days and
one ACS visit after the Court ruling, Kevasia was dead. Kevasia
suffered, among other things, burns and broken ribs, which led to her
death.

These cases highlight the need for legislation to provide closer
over-sight 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--B

                       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 -- recommitted to the Committee on Chil-
  dren and Families in accordance with Senate Rule 6, sec. 8 --  commit-
  tee  discharged, bill amended, ordered reprinted as amended and recom-
  mitted 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;

 EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                      [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                           LBD02005-05-4

S. 4441--B                          2

  (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.
  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, TO DOCUMENT EACH SUCH CONTACT WITH A TIME STAMPED PHOTOGRAPH
OF THE FRONT DOOR OF THE RESIDENCE WHERE SUCH CHILD IS DOMICILED  DURING
SUCH  VISIT  OR  CONTACT  USING  A  TABLET, CELLULAR PHONE OR COMPARABLE
DEVICE THAT IS GLOBAL POSITIONING SATELLITE DEVICE CAPABLE. SUCH  PHOTO-
GRAPH  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 FRONT
DOOR OF THE RESIDENCE WHERE THE CHILD IS DOMICILED, AND CONTAIN ACCURATE
DATA WITH REGARD TO THE TIME AND DATE OF THE PHOTOGRAPH. THE SUPERVISING
AUTHORITY SHALL ALSO REQUIRE THAT THE CASEWORKER GEOGRAPHICALLY DOCUMENT
SUCH VISIT UTILIZING TECHNOLOGY ALLOWING FOR THE  GEOGRAPHIC  DOCUMENTA-
TION.  IF  THE PARENT OR LEGAL GUARDIAN OBJECTS TO THE PHOTOGRAPH OF THE
ENTRANCE TO THE RESIDENCE WHERE  THE  CHILD  IS  DOMICILED  OR  FOR  THE
GEOGRAPHIC  DOCUMENTATION  OF  THE VISIT, THE CASEWORKER SHALL PROVIDE A
FORM, SUPPLIED BY THE CASEWORKER'S AGENCY OF  EMPLOYMENT,  STATING  THAT
THE  CASEWORKER CONDUCTED THE VISIT WITH THE CHILD AND VERIFIED THE WELL
BEING OF THE CHILD. SUCH FORM SHALL INDICATE WHICH PROCEDURE  OR  PROCE-
DURES  PRESCRIBED  IN  THIS SECTION WERE OBJECTED TO AND SHALL BE SIGNED
AND DATED BY BOTH THE CHILD'S PARENT OR LEGAL GUARDIAN AND THE CASEWORK-
ER. SUCH FORM SHALL BE UTILIZED AT EACH VISIT WHERE EITHER A  PHOTOGRAPH
IS  NOT TAKEN OR THE VISIT IS NOT GEOGRAPHICALLY DOCUMENTED.  Such regu-
lations 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 IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE REQUIRE-
MENTS 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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