Provides that the local commissioner of social services or local commissioner of heath may give consent for medical, dental, health and hospital services for any child found by the family court to be an abused, neglected or destitute child.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the social services law, in relation
to consents to medical treatment for destitute children placed in
foster care by the family court
This is one in a series of measures being introduced at the request of
the Chief Administrative Judge upon the recommendation of her Family
Court Advisory and Rules Committee.
Article 10-C of the Family Court Act was enacted to ensure that a
destitute child - defined in section 1092(a) of the Family Court Act
as a child "in a state of want or suffering due to lack of sufficient
food, clothing, shelter, or medical or surgical care" - would receive
the judicial oversight, services and, where placement out of the home
is necessary, permanency planning efforts that are afforded to all
other categories of youth in foster care. See L. 2011, c. 605; L.
2012, c. 3. As part of that enactment, section 398(1)(c) of the Social
Services Law was amended to direct social services officials to
"assume charge of and provide care and support" for destitute children
who cannot remain at home, petitioning the court where necessary for
temporary custody during the pendency of the case and placement as a
disposition. See Family Court Act §§ 1094,1095. Significantly, in
order to qualify for Federal foster care assistance under Title 1V-E
of the Social Security Act, destitute children, who require temporary
or long-term placement out of their homes, must be treated identically
to other foster children, thus requiring periodic permanency hearings
that must focus, inter alga, upon their safety and well-being.
Provision of adequate medical diagnosis and treatment is essential to
ensuring the well-being of destitute children who require placement in
foster care. Subdivision six of section 398 of the Social Services Law
provides that "as to all foregoing classes of children," including
destitute children, local social services commissioners must provide
"expert mental and physical examination of any child whom (they have)
reason to suspect of mental or physical disability or disease," as
well as "necessary medical or surgical care in a suitable hospital,
sanatorium, preventorium or other institution or in his (or her) own
home for any child needing such care..." However, section 383-b of the
Social Services Law, which authorizes local social services
commissioners to "give effective consent for medical, dental, health
and hospital services" for abused and neglected children in their
care, was not amended to provide comparable authority with respect to
destitute children. Even though many destitute children are
unaccompanied minors whose parents are deceased, residing in other
countries or whose whereabouts are unknown, local commissioners of
social services are hampered in their ability to fulfill their
obligation under Social Services Law § 398(6) to provide needed
medical treatment if they are not clearly authorized to give consent
for such treatment. Cases have arisen, in particular in New York City,
in which this gap in the statute has impeded the provision of
necessary services to destitute children in foster care whose parents
are unavailable, not living or not able to be contacted to provide
We propose this measure to resolve the apparent conflict between
sections 383-b and 398(6) of the Social Services Law. The measure
would simply amend section 383-b of the Social Services Law to add
destitute children to the categories of children for whom local
commissioners of social services may provide consent. It would also
enumerate the temporary and dispositional placement statutory
provisions applicable to destitute children (Family Court Act §§ 1094,
This measure is critically important in order for the destitute child
legislation to effectively fulfill its intent to ensure adequate care
of children who may be in desperate need. As Professor Merril Sobie
recognized in his Practice Commentary, while recognizing that the
universe of children falling into the category of destitute child is
limited, "for the relatively small number of youngsters who meet the
definition, the benefits may be huge." (McKinney's NY Laws, Family
Court Act § 1092, Practice Commentary).
This measure, which would have no fiscal impact upon the State, would
take effect immediately.
None. New proposal.
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