Bill S4441B-2013

Relates to requiring child protective services to document home visits with photographs

Requires child protective services to document home visits as part of a treatment plan, supervision and monitoring, pursuant to a court order, or on an emergency basis with photographs.



  • Mar 31, 2014: PRINT NUMBER 4441B
  • Apr 26, 2013: PRINT NUMBER 4441A



TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the social services law, in relation to requiring child protective services to document home visits with photographs


To provide greater accountability and safety regarding caseworker visits to children in the child protective services and foster care system.


Section 1 of the bill provides that this bill shall be known and cited as "Marchella Pierce's Law."

Section 2 of the bill amends section 421(3) of the Social Services Law, which relates to the regulations that the Department of Social Services is required to promulgate concerning the investigation of child abuse or maltreatment. This section of the bill requires the Department of Social Services to promulgate additional regulations to require caseworkers to perform certain tasks in connection with their visitation of children under a plan of treatment or supervision and monitoring. Specifically, the regulations must require that each caseworker to document each such with a photograph of the front door of the residence where the child is domiciled at the time of the visit. Additionally, the regulations must require that each caseworker document visits using technology that provides geographic documentation of the visit. Section 2 of the bill further provides that if the child's parent or guardian objects to either the pictorial or geographic documentation, the parent or guardian must sign a form stating the objection, that the visit was conducted and that the child's well-being was verified.

Section 3 of the bill adds a new subdivision 4-c to section 372 of the Social Services Law to provide that the documentation described in section 2 of this bill shall also be kept and filed by caseworkers involved in the treatment plan or supervision and monitoring of foster children.

Section 4 provides that this bill shall take effect immediately.


Current law requires the Department of Social Services to issue regulations concerning the supervision and monitoring of abused children. These regulations must include guidelines for when children must undergo medical examination and when visibly injured children must be photo- graphed. Current law, however, does not require that caseworkers document every contact they have with a child. Nor does it require that the regulations promulgated by the Department of Social Services contain safeguards to ensure that the documentation contained in case records is safe from manipulation.


Our child protective services system was designed to afford protection through monitoring of abused or neglected children or children at risk from abuse and neglect. Trained caseworkers are required to make routine visits to such children in their homes or in the foster care system to ensure that their protection. Sadly, even under the watch of Child Protective Services, children "fall through the cracks," resulting in substantial harm and sometimes death.

A 2012 case involving the death of Marchelia Pierce, a medically fragile child in Brooklyn, highlighted the lack of adequate safeguards in the supervision of at risk children. Prosecutors charged the Administration of Children's Services ("ACS") caseworker in Marchella's death, alleging that he should have noticed the child's injuries and malnourishment and that he changed records after her death to make it seem like he visited her family when he did not make the visits for months leading up to her death - months in which she was starved and abused by her mother. In many ways, Marchella's case resembles the tragedy of Nixmary Brown, a seven year-old Brooklyn girl killed by her mother and stepfather in 2006 while she was being monitored by ACS.

In January of this year, 4-year old Myls Dobson was tortured for three weeks prior to his death at the hands of the caregiver who had custody of Myls while his father was in jail. Until August 2013, Myls was monitored by ACS pursuant to a Court order granting his father custody in the wake of abuse charges leveled against his then-custodian mother. An investigation into Myls' death found that ACS did not know that Myls' father was in jail while under ACS supervision. This failure to recognize that Myls was at risk allowed Myls to be cared for by the woman who tortured and ultimately killed him.

In February of this year, Kevasia Edwards was found unresponsive and unconscious at her home in Far Rockaway. The two-year old, along with her four siblings, had previously been removed from her mother's care. On January 23, 2014, the Queens Family Court allowed Kevasia and her siblings to remain in their mother's care because she had shown improvement during the court-ordered therapy and parenting classes that were required due to abuse and neglect charges. Eleven days and one ACS visit after the Court ruling, Kevasia was dead. Kevasia suffered, among other things, burns and broken ribs, which led to her death.

These cases highlight the need for legislation to provide closer over-sight of child protective caseworkers. Specifically, legislation is needed to ensure that the very small minority of caseworkers who fail to live up to the high professional standards of child protective agencies do not allow neglected and abused children to suffer. This bill achieves that goal by requiring the Department of Social Services to issue additional regulations requiring caseworkers to document every contact they have with a child under agency supervision. Such documentation shall consist of a description of the child's apparent physical and emotional condition. This bill also requires regulations to be promulgated requiring the timely and accurate filing of such documentation in case files, as well as safeguards to prevent the manipulation of case files-such as was alleged to have occurred in Marchella Pierce's case.


Similar to S.5313B of 2011 - Passed Senate


None to the State.


This bill shall apply immediately and shall take effect immediately.


STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 4441--B 2013-2014 Regular Sessions IN SENATE April 1, 2013 ___________
Introduced by Sen. GOLDEN -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Children and Families -- committee discharged, bill amended, ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted to said committee -- recommitted to the Committee on Chil- dren and Families in accordance with Senate Rule 6, sec. 8 -- commit- tee discharged, bill amended, ordered reprinted as amended and recom- mitted to said committee AN ACT to amend the social services law, in relation to requiring child protective services to document home visits with photographs THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. This act shall be known and may be cited as "Marchella Pierce's Law". S 2. Subdivision 3 of section 421 of the social services law, as amended by chapter 718 of the laws of 1986, paragraph (a) as amended by chapter 110 of the laws of 1989 and the closing paragraph as amended by chapter 320 of the laws of 1990, is amended to read as follows: 3. promulgate regulations setting forth requirements for the perform- ance by local social services departments of the duties and powers imposed and conferred upon them by the provisions of this title and of article ten of the family court act. Such regulations shall establish uniform requirements for the investigation of reports of child abuse or maltreatment under this title. The department shall also issue guide- lines which shall set forth the circumstances or conditions under which: (a) personal contact shall be made with the child named in the report and any other children in the same household, including interviewing such child or children absent the subject of the report whenever possi- ble and appropriate; (b) photographs of visible physical injuries or trauma of children who may be the victims of abuse or maltreatment shall be taken or arranged for;
(c) medical examination of a child who may be a victim of abuse or maltreatment and documentation of findings of such examination, shall be required. The department shall promulgate regulations to establish standards for intervention, criteria for case closings, criteria for determining whether or not to initiate a child protective proceeding, and criteria for the formulation of treatment plans and for the delivery of child protective services including specification of the services to be clas- sified as child protective services, which shall also apply to any soci- ety for the prevention of cruelty to children which has entered into a currently valid contract with a local department of social services to investigate child abuse or maltreatment reports. The department shall promulgate regulations establishing minimum standards and practices for the delivery of child protective services in connection with monitoring and supervising respondents and their families as ordered by a family court pursuant to section ten hundred thirty-nine and paragraphs (i), (iii), (iv) and (v) of subdivision (a) of section ten hundred fifty-two of the family court act. THE DEPARTMENT SHALL REQUIRE THAT EVERY CASE- WORKER, CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES EMPLOYEE OR ANY PERSON ACTING PURSUANT TO A CONTRACT FOR SERVICES WITH A LOCAL SOCIAL SERVICES DEPARTMENT WHO HAS CONTACT WITH A CHILD AS PART OF A TREATMENT PLAN OR SUPERVISION AND MONITORING, TO DOCUMENT EACH SUCH CONTACT WITH A TIME STAMPED PHOTOGRAPH OF THE FRONT DOOR OF THE RESIDENCE WHERE SUCH CHILD IS DOMICILED DURING SUCH VISIT OR CONTACT USING A TABLET, CELLULAR PHONE OR COMPARABLE DEVICE THAT IS GLOBAL POSITIONING SATELLITE DEVICE CAPABLE. SUCH PHOTO- GRAPH SHALL BE PART OF THE CONFIDENTIAL CASE RECORD FOR SUCH CHILD AND SHALL BE SUBJECT TO PERIODIC REVIEW BY THE SUPERVISOR OF THE CASE. SUCH PHOTOGRAPH MUST BE OF SUFFICIENT QUALITY TO CLEARLY IDENTIFY THE FRONT DOOR OF THE RESIDENCE WHERE THE CHILD IS DOMICILED, AND CONTAIN ACCURATE DATA WITH REGARD TO THE TIME AND DATE OF THE PHOTOGRAPH. THE SUPERVISING AUTHORITY SHALL ALSO REQUIRE THAT THE CASEWORKER GEOGRAPHICALLY DOCUMENT SUCH VISIT UTILIZING TECHNOLOGY ALLOWING FOR THE GEOGRAPHIC DOCUMENTA- TION. IF THE PARENT OR LEGAL GUARDIAN OBJECTS TO THE PHOTOGRAPH OF THE ENTRANCE TO THE RESIDENCE WHERE THE CHILD IS DOMICILED OR FOR THE GEOGRAPHIC DOCUMENTATION OF THE VISIT, THE CASEWORKER SHALL PROVIDE A FORM, SUPPLIED BY THE CASEWORKER'S AGENCY OF EMPLOYMENT, STATING THAT THE CASEWORKER CONDUCTED THE VISIT WITH THE CHILD AND VERIFIED THE WELL BEING OF THE CHILD. SUCH FORM SHALL INDICATE WHICH PROCEDURE OR PROCE- DURES PRESCRIBED IN THIS SECTION WERE OBJECTED TO AND SHALL BE SIGNED AND DATED BY BOTH THE CHILD'S PARENT OR LEGAL GUARDIAN AND THE CASEWORK- ER. SUCH FORM SHALL BE UTILIZED AT EACH VISIT WHERE EITHER A PHOTOGRAPH IS NOT TAKEN OR THE VISIT IS NOT GEOGRAPHICALLY DOCUMENTED. Such regu- lations REQUIRED UNDER THIS SUBDIVISION shall also require local child protective services to comply with notification requirements of the family court act in connection with such monitoring and supervisory responsibilities. S 3. Section 372 of the social services law is amended by adding a new subdivision 4-c to read as follows: 4-C. THE RECORDS MAINTAINED PURSUANT TO THIS SECTION BY ANY CASEWORK- ER, CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES EMPLOYEE OR AUTHORIZED AGENCY AS DEFINED IN SECTION THREE HUNDRED SEVENTY-ONE OF THIS TITLE WHO HAS CONTACT WITH A FOSTER CHILD AS PART OF A TREATMENT PLAN OR SUPERVISION AND MONITOR- ING, SHALL DOCUMENT EACH SUCH CONTACT IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE REQUIRE- MENTS SET FORTH IN SUBDIVISION THREE OF SECTION FOUR HUNDRED TWENTY-ONE OF THIS ARTICLE. S 4. This act shall take effect immediately.


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