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CPS Making Strides, Although State Legislation Would Help Even More


OFFICE HIGHLIGHTS

   

The serious problem with CPS over the last several years is just heart-wrenching.  Reforms within this County department are ongoing and helpful, and together with reforms at the State level, will provide additional avenues to help our most vulnerable residents.  Joining her Democratic colleagues in supporting legislation currently before both houses of the State Legislature, Betty Jean Grant is hopeful that this legislation secures passage, as well as the signature of Gov. Cuomo, in order to become law.

 

Here is the full text of the two resolutions currently before the Erie County Legislature:

 

A RESOLUTION TO BE SUBMITTED

BY LEGISLATORS MILLER-WILLIAMS, GRANT & BURKE

 

RE:     Supporting NYS Legislation to Strengthen the CPS Interview Process of Children Suspected of Being Abused or Maltreated

 

WHEREAS, following the deaths of several children who were under the jurisdiction of Erie County Child Protective Services, the community has struggled with the realization that problems clearly exist within CPS, and more specifically, how CPS caseworkers conduct interviews of children who have been reported to be abused or maltreated by someone in their household, or children who are victimized in other ways outside their homes; and

WHEREAS, this Honorable Body, together with its Health & Human Services Committee, has focused attention on CPS in order to better serve and protect vulnerable children, has appropriated additional staffing for CPS, has amended the 2014 Erie County budget to appropriate funding for the purpose of conducting a study of chronic child neglect in Erie County, and has directed that the Department of Social Services re-invigorate its chartered citizens’ advisory committee, the Erie County Community Coordinating Council on Children & Families; and

WHEREAS, and although steps have been taken in County government to address a  crisis in CPS, additional steps are necessary to provide additional protections to these young victims of unthinkable abuse and maltreatment, including help from New York State government in the form of changes in State law; and

WHEREAS, the State Legislature currently is considering an act to amend the Social Services Law, in relation to preventing children from being interviewed by Child Protective Services’ caseworkers in the presence of others; and

WHEREAS, this legislation aims to change the way CPS currently conducts interviews of children suspected of being abused or maltreated, in that such interviews, “in front of their parent or guardian may substantially inhibit them from speaking out against a perpetrator for fear of retribution,” according to the legislation; and

WHEREAS, it would be appropriate and correct that the Erie County Legislature sends a message of support for this legislation before the State Senate and State Assembly in order to add an additional level of protection for all of our children.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT

RESOLVED, that the Erie County Legislature declares its support for legislation currently before the New York State Legislature that aims to address problems within the Social Services Law in how CPS caseworkers interview children suspected of being abused or maltreated; and be it further

RESOLVED, that this Honorable Body goes on record in support New York State Senate Bill S.6341, and New York State Assembly Bill A.8427: “An act to amend the social services law, in relation to the interviewing of children in the presence of other persons;” and be it further

RESOLVED, that the Clerk of the Legislature forward certified copies of this resolution to the Governor of the State of New York, the Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo; the Coalition Co-Majority Leaders of the New York State Senate, the Honorable Dean G. Skelos and the Honorable Jeff Klein; the Speaker of the New York State Assembly, the Honorable Sheldon Silver; the Erie County Executive, the Honorable Mark C. Poloncarz; and to the WNY Delegation to the New York State Legislature and the Commissioner of the Department of Social Services.

FISCAL IMPACT:     None for resolution.

 

A RESOLUTION TO BE SUBMITTED

BY LEGISLATORS MILLER-WILLIAMS, GRANT & BURKE

 

RE:     Bringing the Family Court Act and the Social Services Law Up-to-Date

 

WHEREAS, legislation currently before the New York State Legislature aims to update antiquated State laws that classify excessive corporal punishment in such a way that such punishment does not meet a threshold for heightened scrutiny in child abuse and maltreatment investigations; and

WHEREAS, current State law defines excessive corporal punishment as “neglect,” as opposed to “abuse,” which limits scrutiny of Child Protective Services’ caseworkers in their investigation of allegations of child abuse, and even when the current classification of such punishment is proven, penalties are wholly inadequate for “neglect” as opposed to “abuse;” and

WHEREAS, according to the legislation, “Under New York State’s current legal statutes, a report of a child who is violently, senselessly and/or repeatedly hit by a legal guardian, with bruises left behind in the wake of each strike, may still be classified as neglect.  Officials who work in the field of child advocacy, child protection, parents’ rights and law enforcement have long been clamoring for a change to this antiquated legal definition;” and

WHEREAS, the reclassification of excessive corporal punishment, with this appropriate and meaningful legislation becoming the law in New York State, will mandate that CPS caseworkers more thoroughly investigate certain cases of serious harm to young children; and

WHEREAS, support by the Erie County Legislature encouraging passage of this law in the New York State Legislature would provide another measure of positive action, which together with other actions at the County and State levels, could improve outcomes for our most vulnerable members of society – our children.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT

RESOLVED, that the Erie County Legislature goes on record in support NYS Senate Bill S.6342, and NYS Assembly Bill A.8428: “An act to amend the family court act and the social services law, in relation to the infliction of excessive corporal punishment on a child;” and be it further

RESOLVED, that the Clerk of the Legislature forward certified copies of this resolution to the Governor of the State of New York, the Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo; the Coalition Co-Majority Leaders of the New York State Senate, the Honorable Dean G. Skelos and the Honorable Jeff Klein; the Speaker of the New York State Assembly, the Honorable Sheldon Silver; the Erie County Executive, the Honorable Mark C. Poloncarz; and to the WNY Delegation to the New York State Legislature and the Commissioner of the Department of Social Services.

 

FISCAL IMPACT:                                None for resolution.