senate Bill S7536

Relates to establishing a court-appointed special advocates program to aid family court efforts to promote the health, safety and well-being of children

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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

  • 15 / May / 2014
    • REFERRED TO JUDICIARY
  • 18 / Jun / 2014
    • COMMITTEE DISCHARGED AND COMMITTED TO RULES
  • 18 / Jun / 2014
    • ORDERED TO THIRD READING CAL.1498
  • 18 / Jun / 2014
    • PASSED SENATE
  • 18 / Jun / 2014
    • DELIVERED TO ASSEMBLY
  • 18 / Jun / 2014
    • REFERRED TO JUDICIARY

Summary

Establishes a court-appointed special advocates program to aid family court efforts to promote the health, safety and well-being of children; provides aid to non-profit programs which provide assistance to family courts.

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Bill Details

See Assembly Version of this Bill:
A10031
Versions:
S7536
Legislative Cycle:
2013-2014
Current Committee:
Assembly Judiciary
Law Section:
Judiciary Law
Laws Affected:
Add Art 21-C ยงยง849-l - 849-p, Judy L

Sponsor Memo

BILL NUMBER:S7536

TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the judiciary law, in relation to the
court-appointed special advocates program

PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL:

To establish the Court Appointed Special Advocates program (CASA) in
statute and codify existing Office of Court Administration (OCA) rules
pertaining to CASA.

SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS:

Section 1: Legislative intent.

Section 2: Creates a new article 21-C in the judiciary law known as
the Court Appointed Special Advocates Program.

Section 3: Effective date.

JUSTIFICATION:

The Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program was established
by the Office of Court Administration in 1991 under the Task Force on
Permanency Planning to promote and support trained community volunteer
advocacy programs. The role of CASA is to assist Family Courts in
making crucial decisions affecting children who have been abused and
neglected. The Association incorporated in 1995 as an independent
not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) organization. There are 21 local CASA
programs providing services to the family courts in 31 counties.

All CASA programs strive to achieve the same goal: to ensure that
every abused and neglected child be placed in a safe, permanent home
while taking into consideration each of their emotional, educational
and physical needs. CASA volunteers are screened, trained and
supervised in their activities. They come from a variety of
professional, educational and ethnic backgrounds. By being assigned
only one or two cases at a time, the CASA volunteer can dedicate a
sufficient amount of time and energy to fully explore the history of
each assigned child and engage in dialogue directly with the child,
parents, foster parents, family members, attorneys, case workers,
neighbors, school officials, and others involved in the child's life.
After this process is completed, the volunteer typically submits a
report of recommendations to the Family Court Judge. This report is
instrumental in helping the judge determine whether the child should
stay with his or her parents, be placed in foster care or be freed for
adoption.

This bill is enabling legislation that codifies the CASA program and
accompanying OCA regulations. By doing so, it makes clear the
Legislature's support for the program, provides a consistent
interpretation of CASA's role within the Family Court and strengthens
CASA's standing in its important work on behalf of abused and
neglected children in the State's foster care system.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:


New bill.

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS:

None.

EFFECTIVE DATE:

This act shall take effect immediately.

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

                                  7536

                            I N  S E N A T E

                              May 15, 2014
                               ___________

Introduced  by  Sen. BONACIC -- read twice and ordered printed, and when
  printed to be committed to the Committee on Judiciary

AN ACT to amend the judiciary law, in relation  to  the  court-appointed
  special advocates program

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

  Section 1. The purpose of this act is to recognize the important  role
long  played  by  court-appointed special advocates ("CASA") programs in
aiding family court efforts to promote the health, safety and well-being
of children; and to ensure that, going forward, CASA programs are  suit-
ably  structured,  administered  and funded so that they may continue to
provide appropriate services to children and families through its  dedi-
cated volunteers.
  S 2. The judiciary law is amended by adding a new article 21-C to read
as follows:
                               ARTICLE 21-C
                COURT-APPOINTED SPECIAL ADVOCATES PROGRAM
SECTION 849-L. GENERAL PURPOSE.
        849-M. ADMINISTRATION.
        849-N. STATE ASSISTANCE.
        849-O. IMMUNITY.
        849-P. CONFIDENTIALITY.
  S 849-L. GENERAL PURPOSE. THE LEGISLATURE HEREBY RECOGNIZES THE IMPOR-
TANCE OF COURT-APPOINTED SPECIAL ADVOCATES (CASA) PROGRAMS TO THE EFFEC-
TIVE  OPERATION  OF  THE  FAMILY COURT. ACCORDINGLY, IT DIRECTS THAT, AS
PROVIDED IN THIS ARTICLE, THESE PROGRAMS SHALL BE SUBJECT TO ADMINISTRA-
TIVE SUPERVISION AND ELIGIBLE FOR STATE ASSISTANCE. FOR PURPOSES OF THIS
ARTICLE, A CASA PROGRAM  SHALL  MEAN  A  NOT-FOR-PROFIT  CORPORATION  IN
COMPLIANCE  WITH  SUCH  STANDARDS AS ARE SPECIFIED IN RULES OF THE CHIEF
JUDGE OF THE STATE PROMULGATED PURSUANT TO SECTION EIGHT HUNDRED  FORTY-
NINE-M OF THIS ARTICLE.
  S 849-M. ADMINISTRATION. THE CHIEF JUDGE OF THE STATE SHALL PROMULGATE
RULES  AND  REGULATIONS STANDARDIZING USE OF CASA PROGRAMS IN THIS STATE
AND GOVERNING THE ADMINISTRATION AND OPERATION OF SUCH PROGRAMS. NO CASA

 EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                      [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                           LBD15268-01-4

S. 7536                             2

PROGRAM, OR ANY STAFF PERSON OR VOLUNTEER WORKING FOR OR  ON  BEHALF  OF
SUCH  PROGRAM,  SHALL  BE  ELIGIBLE FOR APPOINTMENT BY A FAMILY COURT TO
ASSIST SUCH COURT IN ANY MANNER UNLESS SUCH  PROGRAM  IS  IN  COMPLIANCE
WITH  SUCH  RULES  AND  REGULATIONS.  NOR SHALL ANY CASA PROGRAM, OR ANY
STAFF PERSON OR VOLUNTEER WORKING FOR OR ON BEHALF OF SUCH PROGRAM, UPON
APPOINTMENT BY A FAMILY COURT TO ASSIST SUCH COURT IN ANY MANNER,  EXER-
CISE  ANY POWERS OR DISCHARGE ANY DUTIES IN RELATION THERETO UNLESS SUCH
COURT HAS AUTHORIZED SUCH EXERCISE OR DISCHARGE.
  S 849-N. STATE ASSISTANCE.  1.  THERE  SHALL  BE  A  STATE  ASSISTANCE
PROGRAM,  TO  BE KNOWN AS THE CASA ASSISTANCE PROGRAM, PURSUANT TO WHICH
INDIVIDUAL CASA PROGRAMS MAY APPLY FOR AND  RECEIVE  FUNDING  FROM  SUCH
APPROPRIATIONS  AS  THE  LEGISLATURE  MAY MAKE AVAILABLE THEREFOR TO THE
UNIFIED COURT SYSTEM.
  2. THE CASA ASSISTANCE PROGRAM SHALL  BE  ADMINISTERED  BY  THE  CHIEF
ADMINISTRATOR OF THE COURTS, WHO SHALL PRESCRIBE APPLICATION AND PAYMENT
PROCEDURES,  STANDARDS TO GOVERN THE AWARD OF FUNDING, AND PROTOCOLS FOR
ONGOING REVIEW OF CASA PROGRAMS THAT RECEIVE FUNDS HEREUNDER,  INCLUDING
PROVISION FOR PERIODIC PROGRAM REVIEW AND RECORDS RETENTION.
  3.  FUNDS  AVAILABLE  PURSUANT  TO  THIS  ARTICLE  MAY BE USED FOR ANY
PURPOSE HAVING AS ITS END ENHANCEMENT OF A  CASA  PROGRAM'S  ABILITY  TO
PROVIDE SUITABLE AND SUFFICIENT ASSISTANCE TO THE FAMILY COURT.
  4. THE STATE COMPTROLLER, THE CHIEF ADMINISTRATOR AND THEIR AUTHORIZED
REPRESENTATIVES  SHALL  HAVE THE POWER TO INSPECT, EXAMINE AND AUDIT THE
FISCAL AFFAIRS OF ANY CASA PROGRAM RECEIVING FUNDING HEREUNDER.
  S 849-O. IMMUNITY. EACH BOARD MEMBER, OFFICER, EMPLOYEE AND  VOLUNTEER
WORKING  FOR OR ON BEHALF OF A CASA PROGRAM, WHILE PARTICIPATING IN GOOD
FAITH WITHIN THE SCOPE OF HIS OR HER EMPLOYMENT THEREBY  OR  APPOINTMENT
THEREUNDER,  SHALL  HAVE IMMUNITY FROM ANY LIABILITY, CIVIL OR CRIMINAL,
THAT MIGHT OTHERWISE RESULT BY REASON OF HIS OR HER ACTION OR  INACTION.
FOR  PURPOSES  OF THIS SECTION, THE GOOD FAITH OF ANY SUCH BOARD MEMBER,
OFFICER, EMPLOYEE AND VOLUNTEER SHALL BE PRESUMED, PROVIDED THAT  HE  OR
SHE  WAS  EXERCISING  HIS OR HER POWERS OR DISCHARGING HIS OR HER DUTIES
WITHIN THE SCOPE OF HIS OR HER EMPLOYMENT OR APPOINTMENT, AND THAT  SUCH
LIABILITY DID NOT RESULT FROM THE WILLFUL MISCONDUCT OR GROSS NEGLIGENCE
OF SUCH BOARD MEMBER, OFFICER, EMPLOYEE AND VOLUNTEER.
  S 849-P. CONFIDENTIALITY. EACH CASA PROGRAM SHALL SAFEGUARD THE CONFI-
DENTIALITY OF ALL INFORMATION AND MATERIAL IN ACCORDANCE WITH APPLICABLE
STATE  AND  FEDERAL LAWS, RULES AND REGULATIONS; AND, TO THIS END, SHALL
ENSURE THAT ALL OF ITS BOARD MEMBERS, OFFICERS, EMPLOYEES AND VOLUNTEERS
ARE TRAINED IN, AND COMPLY WITH, SUCH LAWS, RULES AND REGULATIONS.
  S 3. This act shall take effect immediately.

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