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This entry was published on 2022-04-15
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SECTION 17
Powers and duties of the commissioner
Social Services (SOS) CHAPTER 55, ARTICLE 2
§ 17. Powers and duties of the commissioner. The commissioner shall

(a) determine the policies and principles upon which public
assistance, services and care shall be provided within the state both by
the state itself and by the local governmental units within the limits
hereinafter prescribed in this chapter;

(b) make known his policies and principles to local social services
officials and to public and private institutions and welfare agencies
subject to his regulatory and advisory powers;

(c) in consultation with the civil service commission, establish
minimum qualifications for positions in local social services
departments and classify such positions according to differing
capabilities, skills, responsibilities and education suitable to the
various phases of welfare administration, not inconsistent with the
standards and guidelines of a duly authorized federal agency, having due
regard for recruitment of personnel and the requirements and varying
types of communities within the state. Notwithstanding any inconsistent
provision of law, rule or regulation, when (i) a position is vacant and
not filled for a continuous period of three months, and (ii) provided
that no person meeting all the prescribed minimum qualifications is
available therefore, the local social services commissioner may, if in
accordance with federal standards, waive those qualifications which he
deems least essential for such position and make a provisional
appointment of a person otherwise qualified therefor;

(d) submit an annual report to the governor and the legislature prior
to the fifteenth day of December of each year. Such annual report shall
include the following: the affairs of the department and the status of
welfare programs in the state with recommendations for the improvement
and development of welfare programs; a report on the department's fair
hearing system, as required by section twenty-two of this article; a
written evaluation report on the delivery of child welfare services in
the state, as required by subdivision five of section four hundred seven
of this chapter; a report of the operations of the state central
register of child abuse and maltreatment and the various local child
protective services, as required by section four hundred twenty-six of
this chapter; a report on the number and status and the findings of
investigations of deaths of children pursuant to subdivision five of
section twenty of this chapter; a report on the progress of the
development and operation of the child care review system, as required
by subdivision nine of section four hundred forty-two of this chapter;
commencing before December fifteenth, nineteen hundred eighty-four and
terminating on December fifteenth, nineteen hundred eighty-nine, a
progress report on the planning and implementation of the teenage
services act as required by the provisions of section four hundred
nine-m of title four-B of this chapter; an analysis of the information
contained in the registry of community facilities, as required by
paragraph (b) of subdivision two of section four hundred sixty-three-a
of this chapter; and a report on the operation of the child support
enforcement program, as required by chapter six hundred eighty-five of
the laws of nineteen hundred seventy-five;

* (d-1) in consultation with the commissioner of the division of
criminal justice, submit a report to the governor, the speaker of the
assembly, the temporary president of the senate and the chairs of the
assembly and senate standing committee on social services, on the
services provided to human trafficking survivors for the purpose of
assessing the availability, utilization and necessity for such services.
The initial report shall be provided one year after the effective date
of this subdivision and annually thereafter and shall include, but not
be limited to, the following:

(i) the number of human trafficking referrals made to the office of
temporary and disability assistance including the number of confirmed
cases;

(ii) the number of human trafficking survivors that received housing
and/or services, with specific information about the type of housing or
service;

(iii) the number of human trafficking survivors that did not receive
housing and/or services, and an indication as to what type of housing
and/or service was requested and whether such housing and/or services
were denied due to a lack of availability or because the case was not
confirmed; and

(iv) information pertaining to the types of services provided by
providers such as: (1) the number of current contracts to provide
housing and services for human trafficking survivors and their annual
funding levels, broken down by contract; (2) the number of contracts
and/or services that have ended, been terminated or not renewed and the
reason why; (3) the types of housing and/or services that are provided,
as well as the availability of such services, including the geographic
location of such housing or service; and (4) any other information the
office of temporary and disability assistance deems appropriate.

* NB There are 2 sb (d-1)'s

* (d-1)(1) in consultation with each local health department and each
social services district in the county in which a publicly funded
shelter is located, the commissioner of the department of health, the
commissioner of the office of children and family services, the
commissioner of the New York city department of homeless services, and
the commissioner of the New York city department of health and mental
hygiene, conduct a review of information, to the extent such information
is known and available after making all diligent efforts, regarding the
homeless population in publicly funded shelters, during a state disaster
emergency, declared pursuant to executive order two hundred two of two
thousand twenty or any extension or subsequent executive order issued in
response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, including but not
limited to, the following information:

(i) the number of confirmed infected individuals;

(ii) the number of hospitalizations;

(iii) the number of deaths;

(iv) information regarding the individual, if known: (a) age; (b)
race; (c) family composition; (d) shelter status; (e) type of shelter
including: family shelter, a shelter for adults, a hotel, an emergency
apartment, a domestic violence shelter, a runaway and homeless youth
shelter, or a safe house for refugees; (f) any known risk factors; and
(g) any other information the office deems appropriate;

(v) with regard to individuals residing in a residential program for
victims of domestic violence or for runaway and homeless youth,
information regarding the average number of individuals reported with a
confirmed infection, the number and percentage of programs struggling
with an outbreak, and the number and percentage of residents impacted in
those programs compared to the program's maximum capacity.

(2) in consultation with the commissioner of health, utilizing the
information reviewed pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subdivision and
to the extent that confidentiality requirements set forth in law and
regulation are maintained publish a report containing such information
aggregated by county. When confidentiality requirements set forth in law
and regulation prevent the publication of information aggregated by
county, the report shall contain such information aggregated for
multiple counties and organized by geographic region. Notwithstanding
any other provision of this paragraph, for residential programs for
victims of domestic violence and runaway and homeless youth, reported
information shall be aggregated on a statewide basis.

(3) post the report on the office of temporary and disability
assistance's website within sixty days of the effective date of this
paragraph and update the report at least every three months thereafter
during the state disaster emergency declared pursuant to executive order
two hundred two of two thousand twenty or any extension or subsequent
executive order issued in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)
pandemic.

* NB There are 2 sb (d-1)'s

(e) work cooperatively with the commissioner of the office of mental
health and the commissioner of the office for people with developmental
disabilities to assist the commissioner of education in furnishing
integrated employment services to individuals with severe disabilities,
including the development of an integrated employment implementation
plan pursuant to article twenty-one of the education law;

(f) in conjunction with the commissioner of education, develop and
annually review a plan to ensure coordination and access to education
for homeless children, in accordance with the provisions of section
thirty-two hundred nine of the education law, and monitor compliance of
local social services districts with such plan;

(g) require participation of all employees of a child protective
service in a training course which has been developed by the office for
the prevention of domestic violence in conjunction with the office of
children and family services whose purpose is to develop an
understanding of the dynamics of domestic violence and its connection to
child abuse and neglect. Such course shall:

(i) pay special attention to the need to screen for domestic violence;

(ii) place emphasis on the psychological harm experienced by children
whose environment is impacted by familial violence and accordingly
explore avenues to keep such children with the non-abusive parent rather
than placing them in foster care further traumatizing both the victim
and the children;

(iii) provide instruction regarding the scope of legal remedies for
the abused parent;

(iv) identify obstacles that prevent individuals from leaving their
batterers and examine safety options and services available for the
victim;

(v) provide information pertaining to the unique barriers facing
certain immigrant women and the options available under the federal
Violence Against Women Act;

(vi) analyze procedures available to sanction and educate the abusing
partner; and

(vii) emphasize the need for the system to hold the abusing partner
responsible by appropriate referrals to law enforcement.

(h) make available on its website all award allocations for request
for proposals issued by the office of children and family services upon
release of such awards. Such information shall also include all
organizations requesting funding and the amounts requested for each
request for proposal. The office of children and family services may
also include any other information related to each program that it deems
appropriate;

(i) make available to the council on children and families information
regarding: (1) all recipients of grants awarded or administered by the
office of children and family services for the purposes of providing
afterschool programs; (2) registered school age child care providers
registered by the office of children and family services; and (3) home
visiting programs that meet the criteria as required by section four
hundred twenty-nine of this chapter regardless of whether they have a
contract with or receive funding from the state. Such information shall
be provided in accordance with the requirements set forth in subdivision
two of section four hundred eighty-three-h of this chapter. Such
information shall be made available no less than once a year; and

* (i) exercise such other powers and perform such other duties as may
be imposed by law.

* NB Effective March 31, 2025

* (j) have the authority appoint a temporary operator in accordance
with this subdivision:

(1) For the purposes of this subdivision:

(i) "Building" shall mean an entire building or a unit within that
provides emergency shelter to homeless persons.

(ii) "Commissioner" shall mean the commissioner of the office or his
or her designee.

(iii) "Data" shall mean written documentation or knowledge obtained in
the course of an inspection, audits, or other methods authorized by law.

(iv) "Emergency shelter" means any building with overnight sleeping
accommodations, the primary purpose of which is to provide temporary
shelter for the homeless in general or for specific populations of the
homeless, including residential programs for victims of domestic
violence and runaway and homeless youth programs certified by the office
of children and family services.

(v) "Established operator" shall mean a provider of emergency shelter.

(vi) "Serious financial, health or safety deficiency" shall include,
but not be limited to, missed mortgage payments, missed rent payments, a
pattern of untimely payment of debts, failure to pay its employees or
vendors, insufficient funds to meet the general operating expenses of
the program, or a violation of law, regulation, or code with respect to
a building that provides emergency shelter to homeless persons, in which
there are conditions that are dangerous, hazardous, imminently
detrimental to life or health, or otherwise render the building not fit
for human habitation.

(vii) "Temporary operator" shall mean any provider of emergency
shelter that:

(A) agrees to provide emergency shelter pursuant to this chapter on a
temporary basis in the best interests of its homeless individuals and
families served by the building;

(B) has a history of compliance with applicable laws, rules, and
regulations and a record of providing emergency shelter of good quality,
as determined by the commissioner; and

(C) prior to appointment as temporary operator, develops a plan
determined to be satisfactory by the commissioner to address the
building's deficiencies.

(2) (i) A temporary operator may only be appointed after the emergency
shelter has been provided notice of alleged violations and the ability
to cure such violations. The local social services district shall also
be notified of the alleged violations prior to the appointment of a
temporary operator. If the emergency shelter fails to cure such
violations in a timely manner, a temporary operator may be appointed
where: (A) data demonstrates that the building is exhibiting a serious
financial, health, or safety deficiency; (B) data demonstrates that the
established operator is unable or unwilling to ensure the proper
operation of the building; or (C) data indicates there exist conditions
that seriously endanger or jeopardize emergency shelter residents. If
the commissioner determines to appoint a temporary operator, the
commissioner shall notify the established operator and the local social
services district of his or her intention to appoint a temporary
operator to assume sole responsibility for the provider of the emergency
shelter's operations for a limited period of time. The appointment of a
temporary operator shall be effectuated pursuant to this section, and
shall be in addition to any other remedies provided by law.

(ii) The established operator may at any time request the commissioner
to appoint a temporary operator. Upon receiving such a request, the
commissioner may, if he or she determines that such an action is
necessary, enter into an agreement with the established operator for the
appointment of a temporary operator to restore or maintain the provision
of quality emergency shelter to the emergency shelter residents until
the established operator can resume operations within the designated
time period or other action is taken to suspend, revoke, or limit the
authority of the established operator.

(3) (i) A temporary operator appointed pursuant to this section shall
use his or her best efforts to implement the plan deemed satisfactory by
the commissioner to correct or eliminate any deficiencies in the
building and to promote the quality and accessibility of the emergency
shelter in the community served by the provider of emergency shelter.

(ii) During the term of appointment, the temporary operator shall have
the authority to direct the staff of the established operator as
necessary to appropriately provide emergency shelter for homeless
individuals and families. The temporary operator shall, during this
period, provide emergency shelter in such a manner as to promote safety
and the quality and accessibility of emergency shelter in the community
served by the established operator until either the established operator
can resume operations or until the office revokes the authority of the
emergency shelter to operate under this chapter.

(iii) The established operator shall grant access to the temporary
operator to the established operator's accounts and records in order to
address any serious financial, health or safety deficiency. The
temporary operator shall approve any decision related to an established
provider's day to day operations or the established provider's ability
to provide emergency shelter.

(iv) The temporary operator shall not be required to file any bond. No
security interest in any real or personal property comprising the
established operator or contained within the established operator or in
any fixture of the building, shall be impaired or diminished in priority
by the temporary operator. Neither the temporary operator nor the office
shall engage in any activity that constitutes a confiscation of
property.

(4) Costs associated with the temporary operator, including
compensation, shall follow the financing structure established in
accordance with section one hundred fifty-three of this chapter, as
modified by the current aid to localities provisions for the office of
temporary and disability assistance within the department of family
assistance. The temporary operator shall be liable only in its capacity
as temporary operator for injury to person and property by reason of its
operation of such building; no liability shall incur in the temporary
operator's personal capacity, except for gross negligence and
intentional acts.

(5) (i) The initial term of the appointment of the temporary operator
shall not exceed ninety days. After ninety days, if the commissioner
determines that termination of the temporary operator would cause
significant deterioration of the quality of, or access to, emergency
shelter in the community or that reappointment is necessary to correct
the deficiencies that required the appointment of the temporary
operator, the commissioner may authorize an additional ninety-day term.
However, such authorization shall include the commissioner's
requirements for conclusion of the temporary operatorship to be
satisfied within the additional term.

(ii) Within fourteen days prior to the termination of each term of the
appointment of the temporary operator, the temporary operator shall
submit to the commissioner, to the local social services district, and
to the established operator a report describing:

(A) the actions taken during the appointment to address the identified
building deficiencies, the resumption of building operations by the
established operator, or the revocation of authority to operate an
emergency shelter;

(B) objectives for the continuation of the temporary operatorship if
necessary and a schedule for satisfaction of such objectives; and

(C) if applicable, the recommended actions for the ongoing provision
of emergency shelter subsequent to the temporary operatorship.

(iii) The term of the initial appointment and of any subsequent
reappointment may be terminated prior to the expiration of the
designated term, if the established operator and the commissioner agree
on a plan of correction and the implementation of such plan.

(6) (i) The commissioner shall, upon making a determination of an
intention to appoint a temporary operator pursuant to subparagraph (i)
of paragraph two of this subdivision, cause the established operator and
the local social services district to be notified of the intention by
registered or certified mail addressed to the principal office of the
established operator and the local social services district. Such
notification shall include a detailed description of the findings
underlying the intention to appoint a temporary operator, and the date
and time of a required meeting with the commissioner within ten business
days of the receipt of such notice. At such meeting, the established
operator, and the commissioner shall have the opportunity to review and
discuss all relevant findings. At such meeting, the commissioner and the
established operator shall attempt to develop a mutually satisfactory
plan of correction and schedule for implementation. If a mutually
satisfactory plan of correction and schedule for implementation is
developed, the commissioner shall notify the established operator that
the commissioner will abstain from appointing a temporary operator
contingent upon the established operator remediating the identified
deficiencies within the agreed upon timeframe.

(ii) The commissioner shall, upon making a determination of an
intention to appoint a temporary operator pursuant to subparagraph (i)
of paragraph two of this subdivision, cause the temporary president of
the senate, and the speaker of the assembly to receive appropriate and
timely notification of the intention to appoint a temporary operator.
Such notification shall include a description of the findings underlying
the intention to appoint a temporary operator, the identification of the
new operator when practicable, and the date of expected transfer of
operations. Such notice shall be made as soon as practicable under the
circumstances.

(iii) The commissioner, at any time he or she deems necessary and to
the extent practicable, shall consult and may involve the local social
services district.

(iv) Should the commissioner and the established operator be unable to
establish a plan of correction pursuant to subparagraph (i) of this
paragraph, or should the established operator fail to respond to the
commissioner's initial notification, there shall be an administrative
hearing on the commissioner's determination to appoint a temporary
operator to begin no later than thirty days from the date of the notice
to the established operator. Any such hearing shall be strictly limited
to the issue of whether the determination of the commissioner to appoint
a temporary operator is supported by substantial evidence. A copy of the
decision shall be sent to the established operator and the local social
services district.

(v) If the decision to appoint a temporary operator is upheld such
temporary operator shall be appointed as soon as is practicable and
shall provide emergency shelter pursuant to the provisions of this
section.

(7) Notwithstanding the appointment of a temporary operator, the
established operator shall remain obligated for the continued provision
of emergency shelter. No provision contained in this section shall be
deemed to relieve the established operator or any other person of any
civil or criminal liability incurred, or any duty imposed by law, by
reason of acts or omissions of the established operator or any other
person prior to the appointment of any temporary operator of the
building hereunder; nor shall anything contained in this section be
construed to suspend during the term of the appointment of the temporary
operator of the building any obligation of the established operator or
any other person for the maintenance and repair of the building,
provision of utility services, payment of taxes or other operating and
maintenance expenses of the building, nor of the established operator or
any other person for the payment of mortgages or liens.

* NB Repealed March 31, 2025

* (k) exercise such other powers and perform such other duties as may
be imposed by law.

* NB Repealed March 31, 2025