senate Bill S5943

2013-2014 Legislative Session

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

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Archive: Last Bill Status - In Committee


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

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Actions

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Assembly Actions - Lowercase
Senate Actions - UPPERCASE
Jan 08, 2014 referred to children and families
Oct 02, 2013 referred to rules

Co-Sponsors

S5943 - Bill Details

See Assembly Version of this Bill:
A3821
Current Committee:
Law Section:
Social Services Law
Laws Affected:
Amd §§421 & 372, Soc Serv L
Versions Introduced in 2011-2012 Legislative Session:
A7728A, S5388, S5388A

S5943 - Bill Texts

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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 NUMBER:S5943

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 OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL:

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

SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS:

Section 1 states that this act shall be known and may be cited as
"Marchella Pierce's Law".

Section 2 amends subdivision 3 of section 421 of the social services
law to require that every caseworker and child protective services
employee 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. 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.

Section 3 amends Section 372 of the social services law by adding a
new subdivision 4-c making the same provisions as in section 2 of this
act.

Section 4 provides for the effective date.

JUSTIFICATION:

Our child protective services (CPS) system was designed to afford
protection by way of monitoring, for children at risk of abuse and
neglect. Trained caseworkers are required to make routine visits to
children in their homes or in the foster care system to ensure that
they are not continuing to be abused or neglected.

Sadly, even under the watch of CPS, children "fall through the cracks"
resulting in substantial harm and sometimes death. A recent case
involving the death of Marchella Pierce, a medically fragile child in
Brooklyn, highlighted a situation where an immediate safeguard is
absent. In many ways, this tragic case resembles the tragedy of
Nixmary Brown, a 7-year-old Brooklyn girl killed by her mother and
stepfather four years ago while she was being monitored by ACS.

Prosecutors are charging the Administration of Children's Services
(ACS) caseworker in Marchelle's death, contending 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 hex family
when he did not make the visits for months leading up to death-months
in which she was starved and abused by her mother who is being charged
in connection with her death.


In order to prevent caseworkers from being delinquent with regard to
the important responsibilities they are entrusted with and to assist
caseworker supervisors with monitoring the visits of caseworkers, this
legislation takes a common-sense approach toward providing a much
needed safeguard in child protection by increasing oversight and
accountability.

Requiring that a simple photograph of the child under supervision be
taken at each visit and that photograph be included as part of the
caseworker's record for that visit will help ascertain if visits were
actually made in the event of a tragedy. This action was taken by the
State of Florida last year in response to an audit that discovered
that more than 70 caseworkers fraudulently filed records that they had
visited children in the child protective system when in fact they had
not.

PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS:

None to the State.

EFFECTIVE DATE:

This act shall take effect immediately.

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

                                  5943

                       2013-2014 Regular Sessions

                            I N  S E N A T E

                             October 2, 2013
                               ___________

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

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.
  The department shall promulgate regulations to establish standards for
intervention,  criteria  for  case  closings,  criteria  for determining

 EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                      [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                           LBD02005-01-3

S. 5943                             2

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. 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 SUFFI-
CIENT  QUALITY  TO CLEARLY IDENTIFY THE CHILD, AND CONTAIN ACCURATE DATA
WITH REGARD TO THE TIME AND DATE OF THE PHOTOGRAPH.  WHERE THE PARENT OR
LEGAL GUARDIAN OF THE CHILD OBJECTS TO THE CASEWORKER  TAKING  A  PHOTO-
GRAPH  OF  THE  CHILD  DURING  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 BE SIGNED  AND  DATED  BY  BOTH  THE
CHILD'S  PARENT OR LEGAL GUARDIAN AND THE CASEWORKER AT EACH VISIT WHERE
A PHOTOGRAPH IS NOT TAKEN. Such regulations  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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