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SECTION 20
Powers and duties of the department
Social Services (SOS) CHAPTER 55, ARTICLE 2
§ 20. Powers and duties of the department.

2. The department shall, as provided in this chapter:

(a) administer all the forms of public welfare work for which the
state is responsible;

(b) supervise all social services work, as the same may be
administered by any local unit of government and the social services
officials thereof within the state, advise them in the performance of
their official duties and regulate the financial assistance granted by
the state in connection with said work;

(c) distribute, reimburse and grant as herein provided the funds
appropriated by the legislature for such participation and also such
funds as may be received from the federal government for such purpose or
purposes.

3. The department is authorized:

(a) to supervise local social services departments and in exercising
such supervision the department shall approve or disapprove rules,
regulations and procedures made by local social services officials
within thirty days after filing of same with the commissioner; such
rules, regulations and procedures shall become operative immediately
upon approval or on the thirtieth day after such submission to the
commissioner unless the commissioner shall specifically disapprove said
rule, regulation or procedure as being inconsistent with law or
regulations of the department;

(b) in accordance with the provisions of this chapter to make
reimbursements of local welfare costs on a participating basis
established by law, to advance grants of money for local welfare
purposes and to administer a discretionary fund for such purposes within
the limit of available appropriations;

(c) to pay such per centum as the legislature shall determine, of the
salaries of local administrative personnel as it shall determine to be
qualified to perform the duties assigned;

(d) to establish rules, regulations and policies to carry out its
powers and duties under this chapter;

(e) to withhold or deny state reimbursement, in whole or in part, from
or to any social services district or any city or town thereof, in the
event of the failure of either of them to comply with law, rules or
regulations of the department relating to public assistance and care or
the administration thereof;

(f) to promulgate any regulations the commissioner determines are
necessary, in accordance with the provisions of section one hundred
eleven-b of this chapter, and to withhold or deny state reimbursement,
in whole or in part, from or to any social services district, in the
event of the failure of any such district to comply with such
regulations relating to such district's organization, administration,
management or program. Upon withholding or denying state reimbursement,
the commissioner shall notify the temporary president of the senate, the
speaker of the assembly and the chairmen of the senate finance committee
and assembly ways and means committee;

(g) to formulate plans for the recruitment, utilization and training
of volunteers to assist in performing services and other duties in
social services districts for the purpose of improving participation in
public welfare programs;

(h) for the purpose of the proper administration of programs of public
assistance and care, to enter into agreements not inconsistent with
federal law, with public agencies responsible for the administration of
public assistance and care in any geographically contiguous state, to
receive information from such public agencies which is substantially
similar to information obtained by the department from the wage
reporting system operated by the state department of taxation and
finance pursuant to section one hundred seventy-one-a of the tax law
and, subject to the approval of the state department of taxation and
finance, to provide such public agencies with information obtained from
such wage reporting system; provided, however, that no such agreement
shall be entered into with a public agency of any geographically
contiguous state unless such state has by law established standards of
confidentiality which are substantially similar to those contained in
this chapter prohibiting the disclosure of such information. Upon
receipt of wage information from such public agencies, the department
shall furnish such information to the local social services districts;

(i) to assure conformance with federal law, by entering into
agreements with the federal social security administration and public
agencies in other states responsible for administering the food stamp
program or programs under title I, II, IV-A, IV-D, X, XIV, XVI, or XIX
of the social security act under which the department will provide such
agencies, when required by federal law and only to the extent so
required, with data which may be of use in establishing or verifying
eligibility for or benefit amounts in such programs or ability to pay
support for a person receiving support collection services including
data obtained from the wage reporting system operated by the state
department of taxation and finance pursuant to section one hundred
seventy-one-a of the tax law.

* (j) to ensure the provision, on any form required to be completed at
application or recertification for the purpose of obtaining financial
assistance pursuant to this chapter, the form shall contain a check-off
question asking whether the applicant or recipient or a member of his or
her family served in the United States military, and an option to answer
in the affirmative. Where the applicant or recipient answers in the
affirmative to such question, the office of temporary and disability
assistance shall ensure that contact information for the state division
of veterans' services is provided to such applicant or recipient, in
addition to any other materials provided.

* NB Effective until April 1, 2023

* (j) to ensure the provision, on any form required to be completed at
application or recertification for the purpose of obtaining financial
assistance pursuant to this chapter, the form shall contain a check-off
question asking whether the applicant or recipient or a member of his or
her family served in the United States military, and an option to answer
in the affirmative. Where the applicant or recipient answers in the
affirmative to such question, the office of temporary and disability
assistance shall ensure that contact information for the state
department of veterans' services is provided to such applicant or
recipient addition to any other materials provided.

* NB Effective April 1, 2023

4. The Department shall not withhold state reimbursement from or deny
state reimbursement to a social services district, until written notice
is given to the commissioner of the social services district affected,
except when the reason for the proposed withholding or denying is that
such commissioner does not meet the minimum qualifications required for
such position, to the body or officer that appointed or purported to
appoint such commissioner:

(a) entirely for any period; or

(b) in whole or in part, on ten per centum or more of all the cases in
receipt of public assistance in such district in any period; or

(c) in whole or in part, on ten per centum or more of the cases in
receipt of a specific category of assistance in such district in any
period; or

(d) for any period, in an amount equal to or greater than ten per
centum of the state reimbursement otherwise due the district for such
period.

5. (a) In the case of the death of a child whose care and custody or
custody and guardianship has been transferred to an authorized agency,
other than a vulnerable person as defined in article eleven of this
chapter, or the death of a child for whom any local department of social
services has an open child protective services or preventive services
case, or in the case of a report made to the statewide central register
of child abuse and maltreatment involving the death of a child, the
office of children and family services shall (i) investigate or provide
for an investigation of the cause of and circumstances surrounding such
death, (ii) review such investigation, and (iii) prepare and issue a
report on such death, except where a report is issued by an approved
local or regional fatality review team in accordance with section four
hundred twenty-two-b of this chapter.

(b) Such report shall include (i) the cause of death, whether from
natural or other causes, (ii) identification of child protective or
other services provided or actions taken regarding such child and his or
her family, (iii) any extraordinary or pertinent information concerning
the circumstances of the child's death, (iv) whether the child or the
child's family had received assistance, care or services from the social
services district prior to such child's death, (v) any action or further
investigation undertaken by the department or by the local social
services district since the death of the child, (vi) as appropriate,
recommendations for local or state administrative or policy changes, and
(vii) written comments as may be provided by any local social services
district referenced in such report, to the extent that such comments:
(A) protect the confidentiality and privacy of the deceased child, his
or her siblings, the parent or other person legally responsible for such
child, any other members of such child's household and the source of any
report of suspected child abuse or maltreatment, and (B) are relevant to
the fatality reported and pertain to any of the provisions of
subparagraph (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v) or (vi) of this paragraph,
provided that any comments that pertain to subparagraphs (i), (ii),
(iii), (iv) or (v) of this paragraph must be factually accurate.

Such report shall contain no information that would identify the name
of the deceased child, his or her siblings, the parent or other person
legally responsible for the child or any other members of the child's
household, but shall refer instead to the case, which may be denoted in
any fashion determined appropriate by the department or a local social
services district. In making a fatality report available to the public
pursuant to paragraph (c) of this subdivision, the department may
respond to a child specific request for such report if the commissioner
determines that such disclosure is not contrary to the best interests of
the deceased child's siblings or other children in the household,
pursuant to subdivision five of section four hundred twenty-two-a of
this chapter. Except as it may apply directly to the cause of the death
of the child, nothing herein shall be deemed to authorize the release or
disclosure to the public of the substance or content of any
psychological, psychiatric, therapeutic, clinical or medical reports,
evaluations or like materials or information pertaining to such child or
the child's family.

(c) Twenty days prior to the release of the report the department
shall forward the proposed report to each local social services district
referenced in the report. Within ten days thereafter, each local social
services district may provide written comments in accordance with
subparagraph (vii) of paragraph (b) of this subdivision to the
department in the form and manner required by the department to be
included by the department within the report. No later than six months
from the date of the death of such child, the department shall forward
its report to the social services district, chief county executive
officer, chairperson of the local legislative body of the county where
the child's death occurred and the social services district which had
care and custody or custody and guardianship of the child, if different.
The department shall notify the temporary president of the senate and
the speaker of the assembly as to the issuance of such reports and, in
addition to the requirements of section seventeen of this chapter, shall
submit an annual cumulative report to the governor and the legislature
incorporating the data in the above reports and including appropriate
findings and recommendations. Such reports concerning the death of a
child and such cumulative reports shall immediately thereafter be made
available to the public after such forwarding or submittal.

(d) To enable the office of children and family services or a local or
regional fatality review team to prepare such report, the office of
children and family services or a local or regional fatality review team
may request and shall timely receive from departments, boards, bureaus
or other agencies of the state, or any of its political subdivisions, or
any duly authorized agency, or any other agency which provided
assistance, care or services to the deceased child such information as
they are authorized to provide.

6. The department is directed to seek appropriate approvals from
federal officials to permit commissioners of jurors and clerks of the
court or jury administrators of any United States district court in New
York state appointed pursuant to title twenty-eight of the United States
Code, section 1836(b)(2) in each social services district to obtain the
names and addresses of persons applying for or receiving aid to
dependent children, medicaid, or home relief authorized by this chapter
for purposes of identifying prospective jurors. Upon receiving such
approval or upon determining that no approval is necessary,
notwithstanding sections one hundred thirty-six and three hundred
sixty-nine of this chapter, the department shall provide lists of such
persons to the chief administrator of the courts, appointed pursuant to
section two hundred ten of the judiciary law, or the chief judge of any
United States district court in New York State appointed pursuant to
title twenty-eight of the United States Code. The lists shall be
provided for the sole purpose of integration into lists of prospective
jurors as provided by section five hundred six of the judiciary law or
title twenty-eight of the United States Code. The chief administrator of
the courts shall upon request provide information from the lists to the
commissioner of jurors in each county or, in a county within a city
having a population of one million or more, the county clerk of said
county, solely for the purpose of compiling lists of prospective jurors
for the appropriate county. The chief judge of such United States
district court shall make lists available to such clerk of the court or
jury administrator of a United States district court solely for the
purpose of compiling lists of prospective jurors for the United States
district court. The lists shall be provided only pursuant to a
cooperative agreement between the chief administrator of the courts or,
in the case of a United States district court, the chief judge of such
United States district court and the commissioner that guarantees that
all necessary steps shall be taken by the chief administrator of the
courts, the chief judge of such United States district court, the
commissioners of jurors and the county clerks or the clerk of the court
or jury administrator or court clerk of the United States district court
to ensure that the lists are kept confidential and that there is no
unauthorized use or disclosure of such lists. Furthermore, the lists
will be provided only if the chief administrator of the courts or the
chief judge of the United States district court determines that the
lists are needed for integration into lists of prospective jurors in one
or more counties or the district of such United States district court.
Commissioners of jurors and county clerks, and clerks of the court or
jury administrators or clerk of any United States district court
receiving such lists shall not use any information derived from such
lists for any purpose other than for the selection of jurors and shall
take appropriate steps to see that the confidentiality of such
information is maintained.

7. To the extent appropriations are available, the office of children
and family services shall conduct a public education campaign that
emphasizes zero tolerance for child abuse and maltreatment. Such
campaign shall include information about the signs and symptoms of child
abuse and maltreatment, the hotline available to report child abuse and
maltreatment, and services that are available to assist families with
underlying issues that may lead to child abuse and maltreatment
including, but not limited to, substance abuse services, domestic
violence services, mental health services for adults and services to
assist families with children in need of mental health treatment. Such
campaign may include, but not be limited to, educational and
informational materials in print, audio, video, electronic and other
media and public service announcements and advertisements.

8. (a) The office of temporary and disability assistance shall
promulgate rules and regulations for the administration of this
subdivision. The rules and regulations shall provide for the conditions
under which local social services officials determine the placement of
applicants for and recipients of public assistance for whom a notice
pursuant to section two hundred three of the correction law, has been
received and who are:

(i) determined to be in immediate need of shelter; and

(ii) designated a level two or level three sex offender pursuant to
article six-C of the correction law.

(b) When making determinations in regard to the placement of such
individuals in shelter, local social services officials shall consider
the following factors:

(i) the location of other sex offenders required to register pursuant
to the sex offender registration act, specifically whether there is a
concentration of registered sex offenders in a certain residential area
or municipality;

(ii) the number of registered sex offenders residing at a particular
property;

(iii) proximity of the entities with vulnerable populations;

(iv) accessibility to family members, friends or other supportive
services, including but not limited to locally available sex offender
treatment programs with preference for placement of such individuals
into programs that have demonstrated effectiveness in reducing sex
offender recidivism and increasing public safety; and

(v) investigation and approval of such placement by the department of
corrections and community supervision.