Senate Approves Legislation to Protect Young Children from Drug Exposure
The New York State Senate passed a bill to help protect young children who may be at risk of exposure to dangerous drugs in their households. The bill (S137), sponsored by Senator Betty Little (R-C-I, Queensbury), would require hair follicle testing of an infant or toddler under the age of three when a parent or guardian responsible for the child is arrested on a drug charge.
The legislation, known as Kayleigh Mae’s Law, is named after a 13-month-old child in Washington County who died in 2015 after being given heroin and cocaine for 10 months after birth. For children who are not yet old enough to speak, the hair follicle test would give a new tool for child protective investigations to help determine if a child’s health is at risk from illegal drug exposure.
Senator Little said, “Kayleigh’s death is beyond tragic. Autopsy results showed she had been given heroin and cocaine. The goal of this legislation to protect very young children. It is simply a recognition that some people may purposely or unintentionally put their children at risk and we need to do something before it is too late as it was for Kayleigh.”
Recent reports in Albany and the Bronx suggest that parents or guardians addicted to drugs present extraordinary risks to the welfare of children living with them, and especially those still in the early stages of life. The legislation would amend the State’s social services law to require an investigation for suspected child abuse or maltreatment if a child under the age of 3 is in the vicinity of a parent, guardian, or someone else legally responsible when that person is arrested on a drug charge. Within 10 days of the commencement of an investigation, a non-invasive hair follicle or other drug test must be initiated to test the child for the presence of a controlled substance, and protect children from further abuse.
The bill has been sent to the Assembly.