The legislature passed a bill sponsored by Senator Hugh T. Farley (R,C-Schenectady) and Assemblyman Paul D. Tonko (D-Amsterdam) which closes a loophole in New York's child abuse reporting statute. The measure was named after Xctasy Garcia, a four-year-old Schenectady child who has been the victim of horrendous child abuse.
Under current law, local Social Services workers are only required to formally report and investigate child abuse which they observe, or which they learn about from contact with a child's parents or guardian. In Xctasy's case, however, the call to a Social Services worker was made by a motel manager who had heard about the abuse from one of his tenants. Since the Social Services worker heard the report second-hand, there was no legal requirement to investigate. This measure would require that local Social Services workers who receive second-hand information of suspected child abuse to formally report the concern for investigation.
"There is nothing more precious than the health and well-being of our children, and there is nothing more reprehensible than the abuse of these innocents," said Farley. "This is common-sense legislation which will ensure timely intervention at the first sign of child abuse."
"We must do everything we can to protect our children from violence – whether it’s in their home, in their neighborhood or in their schools," Tonko said. "The government has a fundamental obligation to ensure that children are shielded from the ravages of violent homes and to respond with vigilance to reports of potential cases of child abuse. Children at-risk deserve quick and effective intervention – not bureaucratic responses. This reform ensures enhanced protection for children across the state and will help the responsible agencies in preventing this type of tragedy from happening again."
The measure will now be forwarded to the Governor’s Office.