Bill S4504-2011

Makes the differential response programs permanent

Makes permanent the differential response programs for child protection assessments and investigations.

Details

Actions

  • Jun 1, 2011: SUBSTITUTED BY A6823
  • May 18, 2011: ADVANCED TO THIRD READING
  • May 17, 2011: 2ND REPORT CAL.
  • May 16, 2011: 1ST REPORT CAL.668
  • May 2, 2011: REPORTED AND COMMITTED TO FINANCE
  • Apr 7, 2011: REFERRED TO CHILDREN AND FAMILIES

Meetings

Calendars

Votes

VOTE: COMMITTEE VOTE: - Children and Families - May 2, 2011
Ayes (6): Johnson, Saland, Young, Savino, Montgomery, Duane

Memo

BILL NUMBER:S4504

TITLE OF BILL:

An act to amend the social services law, in relation to the differential response programs for child protection assessments or investigations; and to amend chapter 452 of the laws of 2007 amending the social services law relating to establishing differential response programs for child protection assessments or investigations, in relation to making such provisions permanent

PURPOSE OF BILL:

This bill would make permanent legislation permitting social services districts, with authorization from the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS), to utilize a differential response program for appropriate reports of abuse and maltreatment, and would make New York City eligible to participate in such program.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:

Section 1 of the bill would amend Social Services Law (SSL) § 427-a to allow New York City to participate in the differential response program, by removing the current limitation allowing only social services districts outside a city with a population of two million or more to participate in the program. This section also would amend section § 427-a: to revise the one-time evaluation reporting requirement, by requiring that OCFS report on the differential response program on an ongoing basis in its annual report.

Section 2 of the bill would make SSL § 427-a permanent by eliminating the program's expiration date of June 1, 2011.

Section 3 of the bill would provide for a June 1, 2011 effective date, but would deem the bill to have been in full force and effect on that date if enacted after June 1, 2011.

EXISTING LAW:

SSL § 424 requires the child protective service (CPS) of each social services district to investigate reports of child abuse and maltreatment that have been referred to the district by the Statewide Central Register of Abuse and Maltreatment (SCR). The investigation must determine whether the allegations of abuse or maltreatment are supported by some credible evidence, which leads to a finding by the district that the report is either indicated or unfounded.

SSL § 427-a, enacted by Chapter 452 of the Laws of 2007, permits social services districts outside New York City to implement a family differential response (FAR) program for reports of child abuse and

maltreatment with authorization from OCFS. SSL § 427-a establishes criteria to be used by social services districts in determining whether a report shall be referred to the FAR program, and prohibits reports containing certain serious allegations of abuse and maltreatment from being referred to the FAR program. OCFS was required to evaluate and report on the implementation of the FAR pilot program by January 1, 2011, including making a recommendation on continuing the program, and legislative authorization for the FAR program, is set to expire on June 1, 2011.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

This is a new bill.

STATEMENT IN SUPPORT:

SSL § 427-a authorized OCFS to accept and approve a social services district's application to use FAR on a portion of its CPS reports. FAR is an alternative CPS response. In appropriate cases in which there are no immediate safety concerns or high risk safety indicators, FAR permits a social service district to conduct an assessment of the family's needs and strengths rather than investigate the validity of the allegations in a child abuse and maltreatment report. The expectation of FAR is that families will be more likely to seek necessary help when a less adversarial, less threatening, approach is taken.

Child abuse and maltreatment reports vary significantly, particularly in terms of alleged seriousness and the potential for immediate danger. A traditional CPS response involves, among other things, an investigation of the allegations made in the report and a determination of whether the allegations are supported by some credible evidence. For reports of alleged abuse or maltreatment that appear to create immediate safety concerns or extremely high risk of serious harm, the traditional CPS approach is necessary and appropriate. For reports involving families with children where immediate safety concerns and high risk safety indicators do not exist, the likelihood of engaging families to seek any necessary help increases when a less adversarial, less threatening, approach is taken. FAR allows social services district to choose to use such an approach.

OCFS requires that all participating workers and supervisors receive a prescribed FAR training and coaching regimen, currently delivered by the American Humane Association, the designated National Quality Improvement Center on Differential Response in Child Protective Services. In addition, since FAR is another form of a child protective response, all participating staff members are required to receive the usual CPS training that all CPS staff receive, as required by the SSL and OCFS regulations.

After approximately a year of planning and designing the program, six social services districts chose to use FAR beginning in late 2008 and early 2009. Since that time, 13 more social services districts have voluntarily begun to use this approach for a portion of their CPS maltreatment reports. A number of the current FAR districts are looking to expand their use of FAR and other districts have expressed interest in initiating FAR this year. OCFS submitted its required evaluation and report on the implementation of FAR to the Governor and Legislature on February 1, 2011. Children in families served by FAR were found to be as safe as children served by the traditional CPS approach in relation to new reports of child abuse or maltreatment.

Moreover, significantly fewer Family Court petitions were filed against FAR families when compared with the control group. Additionally, parents served by FAR in five initial pilot counties reported being quite positive about the intervention. For example, one parent explained that the caseworker was instrumental in helping the family to stabilize. Case workers from twelve participating counties were also surveyed. Significantly more FAR caseworkers than traditional CPS workers reported providing referrals to neighborhood organizations and self-help groups in order to help families meet their basic needs

These results demonstrate that FAR has increased access to appropriate services, especially for the basic family needs of food, housing, and utilities. FAR has broadened the involvement of the community in meeting family service needs by more often referring to nontraditional service providers and self-help groups. Thus, FAR results in families being served more holistically with referrals to additional community supports that can help lessen stressors and promote family and child well-being.

The preliminary results from New York regarding safety and increased services are consistent with longer-term experimental studies of CPS differential response systems in other states (Tony Loman, Ph.D, Director of the Institute of Applied Research, St. Louis, MO., "Differential Response and Family Poverty - Evidence from Evaluations," Presentation 11/09). Moreover, in a rigorous five-year study conducted in Minnesota, which involved random assignment of families to FAR or to a traditional CPS response, it was found that FAR cost less than a traditional CPS response over time. The average cost for a FAR family over a multi-year period was $3,688, while the average cost for a family receiving the traditional CPS response was $4,967. The cost for serving families with the investigative approach was 35% higher (http://www.americanhumane.org/assets/docs/protecting-children/PCAR-study-family-response-MN.pdf). Accordingly, making the FAR program permanent in New York and allowing New York City to participate in the program has the potential to both improve services to children and families and to reduce child welfare services costs.

Finally, because the bill would make this program permanent, it also makes provision for regular inclusion of OCFS' reporting on differential response programs in its annual report.

BUDGET IMPLICATIONS:

Effective December 2010, federal law requires, as a condition of receiving federal funding, that the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) State plan contain an assurance in the form of a certification by the Governor of the state that: "the State has in effect and is enforcing a State Law, or has in effect and is operating a statewide program, relating to child abuse and neglect that includes...triage procedures, including the use of differential response, for the appropriate referrals of a child not at risk of imminent harm to a community organization or voluntary preventive service" 42 U.S.C. § 5106a(b)(2)(A)(v). Extension of FAR and the inclusion of NYC would enable the State to meet this requirement, and prevent to loss of approximately $1.4 million received by the State under this federal program.

Moreover, OCFS will consider the availability of funds to provide caseworker training and related programmatic administrative needs as part of its approval process for new districts.

Based on the experience of other states that have implemented a differential response for CPS reports, New York may realize savings over the long term. For example, in a five-year study, Minnesota, which has practiced a differential response program more extensively, observed a 35% decrease in programmatic costs resulting primarily from reduced out-of-home placements and decreased recurrence of problematic cases. For the State, such savings would be realized in the state share of CPS costs.

In addition, continuation of the FAR program would likely provide relief to counties that elect to participate in the program. Social services districts are responsible for investigating reports of child abuse and maltreatment referred to the district by the SCR. The FAR program gives districts the flexibility to use an alternate response to low-risk maltreatment reports with authority and oversight from OCFS if they choose. The legislation, therefore, expands the CPS options of social services districts without mandating participation. As noted above, other states that have implemented a differential response for CPS reports have realized significant savings. In New York, reduced foster care usage by FAR participant families would be realized by local districts that fund foster care services beyond the base level provided by the State.

EFFECTIVE DATE:

This bill would take effect on June 1, 2011, but would be deemed to have been in full force and effect if enacted after June 1, 2011.


Text

STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 4504 2011-2012 Regular Sessions IN SENATE April 7, 2011 ___________
Introduced by Sen. SAVINO -- (at request of the Office of Children and Family Services) -- 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 the differential response programs for child protection assessments or investigations; and to amend chapter 452 of the laws of 2007 amending the social services law relating to establishing differential response programs for child protection assessments or investigations, in relation to making such provisions permanent THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Subdivisions 1 and 8 of section 427-a of the social services law, as added by chapter 452 of the laws of 2007, are amended to read as follows: 1. Any social services district [located outside of a city with a population of more than two million] may, upon the authorization of the office of children and family services, establish a program that imple- ments differential responses to reports of child abuse and maltreatment. Such programs [would] SHALL create a family assessment and services track as an alternative means of addressing certain matters [currently] OTHERWISE investigated as allegations of child abuse or maltreatment pursuant to this title. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, the provisions of this section [will] SHALL apply only to those cases involving allegations of abuse or maltreatment in family settings expressly included in the family assessment and services track of the differential response program, and only in those social services districts authorized by the office of children and family services to implement a differential response program. Such cases shall not be subject to the requirements otherwise applicable to cases reported to the statewide central register of child abuse and maltreatment pursuant to this title, except as set forth in this section.
8. The office of children and family services shall [complete a] report [evaluating the implementation of any] ON THE differential response programs established pursuant to this section AS PART OF THE ANNUAL REPORT REQUIRED PURSUANT TO SECTION FOUR HUNDRED TWENTY-SIX OF THIS TITLE. [The report shall assess the effectiveness of the programs in promoting broader community involvement in meeting service needs, expanding and expediting access to appropriate services, improving the cooperation of families, reducing subsequent abuse and maltreatment reports, and promoting child safety. Such report shall also recommend whether or not to continue the provisions of this section and shall be submitted to the governor and the legislature no later than the first day of January, two thousand eleven.] S 2. Section 3 of chapter 452 of the laws of 2007, amending the social services law relating to establishing differential response programs for child protection assessments or investigations, is amended to read as follows: S 3. This act shall take effect immediately [and shall expire June 1, 2011 when upon such date the provisions of this act shall be deemed repealed]. S 3. This act shall take effect on June 1, 2011; provided, however, if this act shall become a law after such date it shall take effect imme- diately and shall be deemed to have been in full force and effect on and after June 1, 2011.

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