Provides for notification to the state when a foster home is decertified, not renewed or a child is removed; requires evaluation to determine if certificate should be issued and the home be re-opened; authorizes non-renewal of certificate or license as well as revocation; also provides for notice to the office of children and family services of the action taken.
Ayes (5): Montgomery, Schneiderman, Huntley, Duane, McDonald
Ayes W/R (1): Marcellino
BILL NUMBER: S1078
TITLE OF BILL : An act to amend the social services law, in relation to foster home decertification, application for recertification, authorization for non-renewal, notice of removal of a child, and other required notices
PURPOSE : To protect foster children from being placed in a home which has previously been found to be unsuitable for providing care.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS : Section 1 and 2 amend sections 376 and 377 of the Social Services Law, by requiring that when an agency or local social services commissioner is screening a prospective foster parent to be certified or licensed, the agency or local commissioner must inquire with OCFS whether the applicant has ever been a foster parent before, and, if so, whether the certificate or license was revoked, not renewed, or a child was removed from the home. If any of these instances have occurred, the agency or commissioner must evaluate the circumstances and the reason(s) for such action, to determine whether a certificate should be issued and the home reopened.
Section 3 amends section 379 of the Social Services law, by adding non-renewal of certificates and licenses and removal of a child, as instances for notification to OCFS.
EXISTING LAW : Currently, under section 379 of the Social Service Law, the only requirement to notify OCFS is when a certification or license is revoked. The law does not require that OCFS be informed as to the reason(s) why the certification or license was revoked. There is no statutory requirement for agencies or local social services commissioners to make an inquiry to OCFS regarding an applicant's prior history as a foster parent, before issuing a new certificate or license.
JUSTIFICATION : When a child enters fostercare, the state assumes the responsibility of providing a safe and secure environment for the child. However, this is not always the case. According to agency reports and hearing testimony, there continues to be instances where children are further abused or even killed by their foster parents.
State statute and regulations currently set screening requirements for prospective foster parents, including a check against the Statewide Central Registry of Child Abuse and Maltreatment (The Child Abuse Hotline), which houses data on reports of abuse and maltreatment against individuals, including foster parents. However, such a check will only provide information for reported and investigated cases.
In some cases, when a foster parent is suspected of not providing a safe and secure environment, the caseworker will remove the child or children from the home, but will not revoke the certificate or license, or report the foster parent to the Child Abuse Hotline. Rather, the home remains open with no children placed there by the agency. Then, when the home is up for annual renewal, the agency simply does not renew their certification.
In such cases, the foster parent may simply apply to another agency to take foster children. Without a formal mechanism in place to check on the prior history of the applicant and to follow up with any previous agencies, the new agency could certify the applicant without ever knowing about prior problems, and as a result, place more children in jeopardy.
OCFS does currently have a mechanism for checking information on prospective foster parents. OCFS' computerized foster parent registry is intended to house information on all current and former foster parents. Internal policies direct caseworkers to check the registry before a new foster parent can be certified and added to the system. However, there is no formal guidance as to how to evaluate any problems. Further, the system contains limited information on the reason(s) a home was closed or a child removed.
This bill would address these gaps by requiring that OCFS maintain a history of removals, revocations, and non-renewals of certificates and licenses, including the reason for such actions. It further directs OCFS to establish regulations to help agencies and local social service commissioners evaluate the circumstances around such actions, and decide whether to reopen the home. Similar regulations and procedures already exist for evaluating indicated reports from the Child Abuse Hotline and instances where applicants have a criminal history.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY : 2008: S.1500 - Referred to Social Services, Children & Families 2007: S.1500 - Referred to Social Services, Children & Families 2006: S.2331/A.4373 - Passed Assembly 2004: S.4803/A.4530 - Passed Assembly 2003: S.4803/A.4530 - Died in Committee 2001-02: A.6761-A - Passed Assembly 1999-00: A.5591 - Passed Assembly
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS : None.
EFFECTIVE DATE : This act shall take effect on 180th day after it shall become law, provided however, that effective immediately, the addition, amendment and/or repeal of any rules or regulations necessary for the implementation of the forgoing sections of this act on its effective date are authorized and directed to be made and completed on or before such effective date.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 1078 2009-2010 Regular Sessions IN SENATE January 26, 2009 ___________Introduced by Sens. DILAN, ADAMS, BRESLIN, DIAZ, DUANE, HASSELL-THOMP- SON, C. JOHNSON, KRUEGER, KRUGER, ONORATO, OPPENHEIMER, PARKER, SAMP- SON, SAVINO, SCHNEIDERMAN, STACHOWSKI, STAVISKY -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Children and Families AN ACT to amend the social services law, in relation to foster home decertification, application for recertification, authorization for non-renewal, notice of removal of a child, and other required notices THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Subdivision 1 of section 376 of the social services law, as amended by chapter 677 of the laws of 1985, is amended to read as follows: 1. An authorized agency which shall board out any
[child/or]CHILD AND/OR minor under the age of eighteen years shall issue to the person receiving such child and/or minor for board a certificate to receive, board or keep a [child/or]CHILD AND/OR minor under the age of eighteen years. Prior to issuing such certificate, the agency shall require that an applicant set forth: his or her employment history, provide personal and employment references and sign a sworn statement indicating whether the applicant, to the best of his or her knowledge, has ever been convicted of a crime in this state or any other jurisdiction. THE AGEN- CY SHALL ALSO INQUIRE OF THE OFFICE OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES AS TO WHETHER THE APPLICANT HAS EVER HELD SUCH A CERTIFICATE, OR A LICENSE OR APPROVAL AND, IF SO, WHETHER THE CERTIFICATE, LICENSE OR APPROVAL WAS REVOKED, NOT RENEWED, OR A CHILD WAS REMOVED FROM THE HOME, AND THE REASON THEREFOR. IN SUCH INSTANCES, THE AGENCY SHALL EVALUATE THE CIRCUMSTANCES, PURSUANT TO REGULATIONS ESTABLISHED BY THE OFFICE, TO DETERMINE WHETHER A CERTIFICATE SHOULD BE ISSUED AND THE HOME RE-OPENED. Not until all inquiries are completed and evaluated shall the agency cause such certificate to be issued.EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD05013-01-9 S. 1078 2
S 2. Subdivision 1 of section 377 of the social services law, as amended by chapter 677 of the laws of 1985, is amended to read as follows: 1. Application for a license to receive, board or keep any child shall be made in writing to the commissioner of
[social services]CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES in and for the social services district wherein the premises to be licensed are located, in the form and manner prescribed by the [department]OFFICE OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES. The [department]OFFICE shall require that an applicant set forth: his or her employment history, provide personal and employment references and sign a sworn statement indicating whether, to the best of his or her knowledge, he or she has ever been convicted of a crime in this state or any other jurisdiction. SUCH COMMISSIONER SHALL ALSO INQUIRE OF THE OFFICE AS TO WHETHER THE APPLICANT HAS EVER HELD SUCH A LICENSE, OR A CERTIFICATE OR APPROVAL, AND, IF SO, WHETHER THE LICENSE, CERTIFICATE OR APPROVAL WAS REVOKED, NOT RENEWED, OR A CHILD WAS REMOVED FROM THE HOME, AND THE REASON THEREFOR. IN SUCH INSTANCES, SUCH COMMISSIONER SHALL EVALUATE THE CIRCUMSTANCES, PURSUANT TO REGULATIONS ESTABLISHED BY THE OFFICE, TO DETERMINE WHETHER A LICENSE SHOULD BE ISSUED AND THE HOME RE-OPENED. Not until all inquiries are completed and evaluated shall [the]SUCH commissioner [of social services]cause such license to be issued. S 3. Section 379 of the social services law, as amended by chapter 945 of the laws of 1971, subdivision 2 as amended by chapter 555 of the laws of 1978, is amended to read as follows: S 379. Revocation AND NON-RENEWAL of certificates and licenses AND REMOVAL OF A CHILD; NOTIFICATION TO OFFICE. 1. A certificate or license to receive, board or keep any child and/or minor under the age of eigh- teen years may be revoked for cause by the authorized agency or the commissioner of [social services]THE OFFICE OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES by which it was issued and any such certificate or license to receive, board or keep any child may be revoked for cause by the commis- sioner OF THE OFFICE OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES. 2. An agency revoking OR NOT RENEWING any such certificate and a LOCAL commissioner of social services revoking OR NOT RENEWING any such license shall notify the [department]OFFICE OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES of such [revocation]ACTION at once, AND THE REASON THEREFOR. 3. ANY TIME AN AGENCY OR LOCAL COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SERVICES REMOVES A CHILD FROM A CERTIFIED OR LICENSED HOME, SUCH AGENCY OR COMMISSIONER SHALL NOTIFY THE OFFICE OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES OF THE REMOVAL AND THE REASON THEREFOR. S 4. This act shall take effect on the one hundred eightieth day after it shall have become a law, provided, however, that effective immediate- ly, the addition, amendment and/or repeal of any rules or regulations necessary for the implementation of the foregoing sections of this act on its effective date is authorized and directed to be made and completed on or before such effective date.