senate Bill S897

2013-2014 Legislative Session

Establishes the peer advocacy and mentoring program

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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
Jan 09, 2013 referred to children and families

S897 - Bill Details

See Assembly Version of this Bill:
A4356
Current Committee:
Senate Children And Families
Law Section:
Executive Law
Laws Affected:
Add ยง522-a, Exec L
Versions Introduced in Previous Legislative Sessions:
2011-2012: S3076, A7038
2009-2010: S6961, A10806

S897 - Bill Texts

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Establishes the peer advocacy and mentoring program; provides peer support, advocacy and mentoring for youth in residential care.

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BILL NUMBER:S897

TITLE OF BILL:
An act
to amend the executive law, in relation to establishing the peer
advocacy and mentoring program

PURPOSE:
This bill directs the Office of Children and Family Services, in
consultation with the Office of Mental Health, to contract for the
establishment of a peer advocacy and mentoring program designed to
provide support for youth in residential facilities operated or
licensed by the department.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:

Sections 1 of the bill adds a new section 522-a to the executive law
directing OCFS within amounts appropriated to establish a Peer
Advocacy and Mentoring Program through contract with a not-for-profit
organization(s) specializing Providing peer support and advocacy to
youth. Services would be provided to youth residing in residential
care licensed or operated by OCFS or OMH, as well as those youth
transitioning or preparing to transition out of such placements, but
priority would be given to services for youth placed or committed to
state operated secure, limited-secure and non-secure juvenile
detention facilities and other residential facilities licensed to
care for court placed youth. This section sets out who can serve as
peer advocates and mentors, the access they shall have to youth in
residential care and to other offices designed to assist youth.

Section 2 provides that the bill shall take effect on the 90th day
after enactment.

JUSTIFICATION:
New York State licenses and operates various residential care
facilities and homes for youth including foster care, residential
treatment and juvenile justice. The support of peers, or individuals
who have had similar residential experiences, are valuable for people
in all areas and youth peer supports are no exception. Youth in
residential care have often experienced various traumas in their
young lives and associate some of those traumas with the adults in
authority who are making decisions on their behalf.

Youth who have experienced similar settings and hardships only to
navigate their lives in a positive way are uniquely equipped to gain
the trust and serve as a role model for youth in care. Peer advocates
would
be between the ages of 16 and 30, have resided in a state operated or
licensed residential Placement as a youth and have completed training
approved by the Commissioners. The peer advocacy and mentoring
program would serve as an outside, independent advocate for youth
Placed in OCFS operated or licensed residential care to help ensure
their rights are protected and they have positive role models as they
heal wounds and prepare to transition back into the community.

Given the recently revealed disturbing results of a 2007 US Department
of Justice investigation of four OCFS operated juvenile justice


facilities which found the use of excessive force and failure to
provide mental health care and treatment, the program would
prioritize services to youth in state operated juvenile justice
facilities. Independent oversight to protect the rights of the
approximately 1,000 youth in these particular care settings is
essential. Some distinguishing features of youth in the juvenile
detention facilities are that at least 65% have a mental health
diagnosis, more than half are on a psychotropic medication, more than
half are special education students with an IEP and the majority have
experienced some form of trauma in their lives and have been involved
in the child welfare system before being placed in a juvenile
detention facilities. These children need all the supports they can get.

These defining characteristics combined with the appalling findings of
inadequate mental health treatment and treatment plans, insufficient
substance abuse services and improper medication management coupled
with evidence of brutal treatment for behavioral issues clearly
demonstrate that some outside oversight is needed. While a peer
advocacy and mentoring program is not sufficient to provide the
independent oversight that is necessary in our state operated
juvenile detention centers, it can play an important role in bringing
a voice to these youth and some transparency to the system while at
the same time providing real examples and connections to a future
filled with hope and opportunities.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
2011-12: S.3076/A.7038 - Died in Children and Families
S.6961/A.10806 - 2010 - Referred to Finance

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: To be determined.

EFFECTIVE DATE:
90 days after enactment.

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

                                   897

                       2013-2014 Regular Sessions

                            I N  S E N A T E

                               (PREFILED)

                             January 9, 2013
                               ___________

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

AN ACT to amend the executive law, in relation to establishing the  peer
  advocacy and mentoring program

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

  Section 1.  The executive law is amended by adding a new section 522-a
to read as follows:
  S 522-A. PEER ADVOCACY AND  MENTORING  PROGRAM.  1.  THERE  IS  HEREBY
CREATED  WITHIN THE OFFICE OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES, A PEER ADVO-
CACY AND MENTORING PROGRAM.
  2. THE OFFICE OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES SHALL,  IN  CONSULTATION
WITH  THE  OFFICE  OF  MENTAL HEALTH AND WITHIN THE AMOUNTS APPROPRIATED
THEREFOR, CONTRACT WITH A NOT-FOR-PROFIT ORGANIZATION  OR  ORGANIZATIONS
SPECIALIZING  IN  PROVIDING  PEER  SUPPORT AND ADVOCACY TO YOUTH AND THE
NEEDS OF YOUTH, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO  EMOTIONAL  AND  BEHAVIORAL
NEEDS,  TO ESTABLISH A PEER ADVOCACY AND MENTORING PROGRAM. SUCH PROGRAM
SHALL BE DESIGNED TO PROVIDE PEER SUPPORT, ADVOCACY  AND  MENTORING  FOR
YOUTH RESIDING IN RESIDENTIAL CARE AS SUCH TERM IS DEFINED IN PARAGRAPHS
(B)  AND (G) OF SUBDIVISION FOUR OF SECTION FOUR HUNDRED TWELVE-A OF THE
SOCIAL SERVICES LAW.
  3. NOTWITHSTANDING ANY INCONSISTENT PROVISION OF LAW TO THE  CONTRARY,
PRIORITY  FOR  SERVICES  UNDER  THE  PEER ADVOCACY AND MENTORING PROGRAM
SHALL BE GIVEN TO YOUTH WHO WERE PLACED IN RESIDENTIAL CARE PURSUANT  TO
SECTION  353.3  OF  THE  FAMILY  COURT ACT, AND WHO RESIDE IN FACILITIES
DESCRIBED IN SECTION FIVE HUNDRED FOUR OF THIS ARTICLE.
  4. PEER ADVOCATES ACTING AS EMPLOYEES OR VOLUNTEERS IN THE PEER  ADVO-
CACY AND MENTORING PROGRAM SHALL: (A) BE INDIVIDUALS BETWEEN THE AGES OF
SIXTEEN AND THIRTY WHO HAVE:

 EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                      [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                           LBD02727-01-3

S. 897                              2

  (I) PREVIOUSLY BEEN PLACED IN RESIDENTIAL CARE AS SUCH TERM IS DEFINED
IN  PARAGRAPHS  (B)  AND (G) OF SUBDIVISION FOUR OF SECTION FOUR HUNDRED
TWELVE-A OF THE SOCIAL SERVICES LAW;
  (II) EXPERIENCED DISABILITIES OR BEHAVIORAL HEALTH NEEDS; AND
  (III)  SUCCESSFULLY  COMPLETED  TRAINING THAT HAS BEEN APPROVED BY THE
COMMISSIONERS OF THE OFFICE OF MENTAL HEALTH AND THE OFFICE OF  CHILDREN
AND  FAMILY  SERVICES,  QUALIFYING  SUCH INDIVIDUALS TO WORK IN THE PEER
ADVOCACY AND MENTORING PROGRAM;
  (B) HAVE REASONABLE AND APPROPRIATE ACCESS  TO  YOUTH  IN  RESIDENTIAL
FACILITIES  AND  THE OPPORTUNITY TO MEET WITH YOUTH IN A PRIVATE, CONFI-
DENTIAL SETTING;
  (C) SERVE AS A LINK FOR YOUTH AND THEIR  FAMILIES  TO  OTHER  SUPPORTS
INCLUDING  THE ATTORNEY FOR THE CHILD AND THE OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN AS
DESCRIBED IN SECTION FIVE HUNDRED TWENTY-THREE-B OF THIS TITLE; AND
  (D) NOT IDENTIFY, IN ANY WAY, OUTSIDE OF THEIR SCOPE OF EMPLOYMENT  OR
DUTIES  AS  A  PEER  ADVOCATE,  THE NAME OR IDENTITY OF ANY YOUTH SERVED
WITHIN THE PEER ADVOCACY AND MENTORING PROGRAM WITHOUT THE EXPRESS WRIT-
TEN CONSENT OF SUCH YOUTH.
  S 2. This act shall take effect on the ninetieth day  after  it  shall
have become a law.

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