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.
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 OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: To protect foster children from being placed in a home which has previously been found to be unsuitable for providing care.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC 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 determine whether the applicant has ever been a foster parent before, and, if so, whether the certificate or license was revoked, not renewed, or a child was removed from the home.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.
JUSTIFICATION: When a child enters foster care, 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 the local social services district or authorized agency review any 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.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2011/12: S.1345 - Passed Senate 2009/10: S.1078 - Died in Codes 2007/08: S.1500 - Referred to Children & Families 2005/06: S.2331/A.4373 - Passed Assembly 2003/04: S,4803/A.4530 - Passed Assembly 2001-02: A.6761-A - Passed Assembly 1999-00: A.5591 - Passed Assembly
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None.
EFFECTIVE DATE: 180 days following enactment.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 1345--A Cal. No. 617 2011-2012 Regular Sessions IN SENATE January 6, 2011 ___________Introduced by Sens. DILAN, AVELLA, DIAZ, HASSELL-THOMPSON, PARKER, SQUA- DRON, STAVISKY -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Children and Families -- recommitted to the Committee on Children and Families in accordance with Senate Rule 6, sec. 8 -- reported favorably from said committee, ordered to first and second report, ordered to a third reading, passed by Senate and delivered to the Assembly, recalled, vote reconsidered, restored to third reading, amended and ordered reprinted, retaining its place in the order of third reading 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 DETERMINE WHETHER THE APPLICANT HAS EVER HELD SUCH A CERTIF- ICATE, 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 BYEXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD02668-03-2 S. 1345--A 2
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. 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 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. THE COMMISSIONER SHALL ALSO DETERMINE 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, THE COMMISSIONER SHALL EVALUATE THE CIRCUMSTANCES, PURSUANT TO REGU- LATIONS 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 commissioner of social services cause such license to be issued. S 3. 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.