senate Bill S7334

2013-2014 Legislative Session

Relates to the permanent termination of parental rights for reason of developmental disabilities; repealer

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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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May 13, 2014 referred to children and families

S7334 - Bill Details

Current Committee:
Law Section:
Social Services Law
Laws Affected:
Amd ยง384-b, rpld sub 6, Soc Serv L
Versions Introduced in Previous Legislative Sessions:
2011-2012: S3026
2009-2010: S2835

S7334 - Bill Texts

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Relates to the permanent termination of parental rights for reason of developmental disabilities.

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BILL NUMBER:S7334

TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the social services law, in relation
to the permanent termination of parental rights for reason of
developmental disabilities; and to repeal subdivision 6 of section
384-b of such law relating thereto

PURPOSE: This bill removes " mental illness" and "mental retardation"
as separate grounds for terminating parental rights under the social
services law.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:

Section one of the bill amends section 384-b of the social services
law by eliminating subsection c of subdivision 4 thereby removing from
law mental illness and mental retardation as grounds for the
termination of guardian ship and child custody.

Section two of the bill repeals subdivision 6 of section 384-b of the
social services law which defines the terms "mental illness" and
"mental retardation" and explains the required court procedures,
proscribed examinations and expert testimonies for verifying that an
individual is mentally ill or mentally retarded.

Section three of the bill provides for an immediate effective date.

JUSTIFICATION: The termination of parental rights completely and
irrevocably severs a parent's right to custody as well as the right to
ever visit, communicate with, or regain custody of his or her child.
Parents with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to loss of
custody and termination of parental rights due to preconceived notions
about their ability to parent and the focus on their diagnosis or
condition, rather than their behavior, i.e. ability to parent.
Research shows an alarming rate of custody loss among parents with
psychiatric or intellectual disabilities - as high as 80%. Statewide,
about one-fourth of foster care placements involve at least one parent
with a serious mental health problem.

The Social Services Law, as amended in 1976, includes the following
grounds for termination of parental rights: abandonment; permanent
neglect; severe and repeated abuse; and inability by reason of mental
illness or mental retardation to provide proper and adequate care.
The statute is discriminatory because it explicitly and unnecessarily
incorporates disability-related grounds for termination of parental
rights.

Though disability alone is not justification for termination of parent
rights, the major concern is that the explicit inclusion of disability
grounds unfairly allows a shift in the focus from a parent's behavior
to a parent's diagnosis or condition. Under the current statute,
parents suffer from a presumption of unfitness. However, recent
research has found that parents with disabilities are not more likely
to maltreat their children than parents without disabilities. While
psychiatric or intellectual disability may be a contributing factor to
a parent's behavior, there are many other factors that can be
contributing which are not singled out in statute. Rather it is the


behavior itself which should be the basis for termination of parental
rights, not the condition.

Family preservation is an important goal under the social services
law. A focus on proper preventive or unification services for families
with disabilities will likely decrease foster care placements, thereby
saving the state money and even more importantly sparing families the
trauma associated with unnecessary foster care.

New York State should act to remove this discriminatory section of the
statute in order to remove the biases, the disincentive for parents to
seek treatment and ultimately the unnecessary placement of some
children in foster care and lack of adequate reunification efforts.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: S.3026-2011

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None

EFFECTIVE DATE: Immediately.

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

                                  7334

                            I N  S E N A T E

                              May 13, 2014
                               ___________

Introduced  by Sen. CARLUCCI -- read twice and ordered printed, and when
  printed to be committed to the Committee on Children and Families

AN ACT to amend the social services law, in relation  to  the  permanent
  termination  of  parental rights for reason of developmental disabili-
  ties; and to repeal subdivision 6 of section 384-b of such law  relat-
  ing thereto

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

  Section 1. Subdivision 4 of section 384-b of the social services  law,
as  added  by chapter 666 of the laws of 1976, paragraphs (b) and (c) as
amended by chapter 284 of the laws of 1981, paragraph (d) as amended  by
chapter  739 of the laws of 1981 and paragraph (e) as amended by section
56 of part A of chapter 3 of the laws of 2005, is  amended  to  read  as
follows:
  4.  An order committing the guardianship and custody of a child pursu-
ant to this section shall be granted  only  upon  one  or  more  of  the
following grounds:
  (a)  Both parents of the child are dead, and no guardian of the person
of such child has been lawfully appointed; or
  (b) The parent or parents, whose consent to the adoption of the  child
would otherwise be required in accordance with section one hundred elev-
en of the domestic relations law, abandoned such child for the period of
six  months immediately prior to the date on which the petition is filed
in the court; or
  (c) [The parent or parents, whose consent to the adoption of the child
would otherwise be required in accordance with section one hundred elev-
en of the domestic relations law, are presently and for the  foreseeable
future  unable,  by  reason  of mental illness or mental retardation, to
provide proper and adequate care for a child who has been in the care of
an authorized agency for the period of one year immediately prior to the
date on which the petition is filed in the court; or
  (d)] The child is a permanently neglected child; or
  [(e)] (D) The parent or parents, whose consent to the adoption of  the
child would otherwise be required in accordance with section one hundred

 EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                      [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                           LBD15021-01-4

S. 7334                             2

eleven of the domestic relations law, severely or repeatedly abused such
child.  Where  a court has determined that reasonable efforts to reunite
the child with his or her parent are not required, pursuant to the fami-
ly court act or this chapter, a petition to terminate parental rights on
the  ground  of severe abuse as set forth in subparagraph (iii) of para-
graph (a) of subdivision eight of this section may be filed  immediately
upon such determination.
  S  2.  Subdivision  6  of  section 384-b of the social services law is
REPEALED.
  S 3. This act shall take effect immediately.

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