Establishes civil penalties for knowingly making a false report of suspected child abuse or mistreatment and creates procedures for determining whether such a violation has occurred.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the social services law, in relation to false allegations of suspected child abuse and maltreatment
This bill establishes a civil penalty against a person who intentionally makes a false report of an alleged occurrence of child abuse or maltreatment.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
Section 1: amends section 422 of the Social Services Law by adding a new subdivision 15 to allow the Office of Children and Family Services or a local child protective services to seek, and for a hearing officer to impose, a fine, not to exceed $5,000 for a first violation and up to $10,000 for a second and subsequent violations upon a person who knowingly and willfully makes a false report of abuse or maltreatment of a child, or a person who counsels another to make a false report. In addition, this section creates a process for that fine to be imposed.
Section 2: Effective Date.
A significant portion of reports to the Statewide Central Register are determined to be "unfounded." A major contributing factor to this is intentional false reports to the state central registry. These false reports are thought to often be from persons
*Who make false reports maliciously and with intent to harass, embarrass, or harm another person;
*Who seek a personal benefit, including in some instances a financial benefits the result of a false report;
*Who seek an advantage in a legal proceeding such as a custody, divorce or child abuse or neglect proceeding.
In addition a number of false reports are believed to come from the same person who makes repeated false reports. These events cause resources to needlessly be spent investigating these allegations, reduces the time workers can spend on legitimate reports and unnecessarily harms people who are named in a report including the child, children or vulnerable person who must be interviewed as part of an investigation.
The current level of penalties is not sufficient to create deterrence from false reporting of incidents of abuse and neglect of a child or vulnerable person. The potential imposition of a civil penalty that may be commenced by the office of children and families or by a local child protective service that can be enforced through administrative processes will create a greater deterrent and more effective enforcement method than is now available in the Section 240.50 of the penal law.
This is one in a series of measures being introduced at the request of the Erie County Executive upon the recommendation of the county's Commissioner of Social Services to improve the provision of child protective services to New York's children and families.
To be determined.
This act shall take effect immediately.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ S. 7128 A. 9436 S E N A T E - A S S E M B L Y April 30, 2014 ___________IN SENATE -- Introduced by Sen. KENNEDY -- read twice and ordered print- ed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Children and Families IN ASSEMBLY -- Introduced by M. of A. PEOPLES-STOKES -- read once and referred to the Committee on Children and Families AN ACT to amend the social services law, in relation to false allega- tions of suspected child abuse and maltreatment THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Section 422 of the social services law is amended by adding a new subdivision 15 to read as follows: 15. (A) IN ADDITION TO CRIMINAL PENALTIES AUTHORIZED BY ARTICLE TWO HUNDRED FORTY OF THE PENAL LAW, THE OFFICE OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES, OR LOCAL CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES ACTING THROUGH ITS COMMIS- SIONER, MAY SEEK A CIVIL PENALTY AGAINST ANY PERSON WHO BY WORD OR ACTION KNOWINGLY OR WILLFULLY MAKES A REPORT TO THE STATEWIDE CENTRAL REGISTER OF CHILD ABUSE AND MALTREATMENT OR MAKES A REPORT TO ANY PERSON REQUIRED TO REPORT SUSPECTED CHILD ABUSE OR MALTREATMENT PURSUANT TO SECTION FOUR HUNDRED THIRTEEN OF THIS TITLE KNOWING THAT THE PERSON IS REQUIRED TO REPORT SUCH CASE, OF AN ALLEGED OCCURRENCE OF CHILD ABUSE OR MALTREATMENT WHICH SAID PERSON KNEW DID NOT IN FACT OCCUR OR EXIST. (B) THE MAXIMUM CIVIL PENALTY SHALL BE FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS FOR THE FIRST OCCURRENCE AND TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS FOR EACH SUBSEQUENT OCCUR- RENCE. EACH FALSE REPORT CONSTITUTES A SEPARATE VIOLATION. (C) IF THE OFFICE OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES OR LOCAL CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES ALLEGES THAT A PERSON HAS MADE A FALSE REPORT WITH THE STATEWIDE CENTRAL REGISTER OF CHILD ABUSE AND MALTREATMENT, THE OFFICE OR SERVICE MUST NOTIFY SUCH PERSON THAT A HEARING WILL BE HELD TO DETERMINE IF A VIOLATION OF PARAGRAPH (A) OF THIS SUBDIVISION HAS OCCURRED. THE PERSON SHALL BE GIVEN A FULL STATEMENT OF THE ALLEGATIONS AGAINST HIM OR HER, A NOTICE THAT A HEARING WILL BE HELD IN FRONT OF A NEUTRAL FACT FINDER WHO SHALL BE APPOINTED BY THE OFFICE OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES OR THE LOCAL CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES, THAT THEY HAVE AEXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD14796-01-4 S. 7128 2 A. 9436
RIGHT TO BE REPRESENTED BY COUNSEL, TO PRESENT EVIDENCE AND TO CROSS-EX- AMINE ANY WITNESSES AGAINST THEM AND THE RIGHT TO APPEAL ANY DECISION THROUGH A FAIR HEARING. A FULL RECORD OF ANY PROCEEDING SHALL BE MADE. NOTICE OF SUCH ALLEGATIONS AND OF THE HEARING SHALL BE SERVED UPON ANY SUCH PERSON BY PERSONAL SERVICE, BY PROMINENTLY PLACING SUCH NOTICE UPON THE PERSON'S DOOR AND MAILING THE NOTICE BY FIRST CLASS MAIL, OR THROUGH CERTIFIED MAIL, RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED TO THE PERSON'S LAST KNOWN ADDRESS. THE OFFICE OR DISTRICT MUST ESTABLISH BY A PREPONDERANCE OF THE EVIDENCE THAT A VIOLATION OF PARAGRAPH (A) OF THIS SUBDIVISION OCCURRED. (D) IN DETERMINING THE AMOUNT OF FINE TO BE IMPOSED, IF ANY, THE FOLLOWING FACTORS SHALL BE CONSIDERED: (I) THE GRAVITY OF THE VIOLATION, INCLUDING THE PROBABILITY THAT SERI- OUS PHYSICAL OR EMOTIONAL HARM TO ANY PERSON WILL RESULT OR HAS RESULTED, THE SEVERITY OF THE ACTUAL OR POTENTIAL HARM, AND THE NATURE OF THE FALSE ALLEGATION. (II) ACTIONS TAKEN BY THE FALSE REPORTER TO RETRACT THE FALSE REPORT AS AN ELEMENT OF MITIGATION, OR, IN CONTRAST, TO ENCOURAGE AN INVESTI- GATION ON THE BASIS OF FALSE INFORMATION. (III) ANY PREVIOUS FALSE REPORTS FILED BY THE SAME INDIVIDUAL. (E) A PERSON WHO IS DETERMINED TO HAVE FILED A FALSE REPORT OF ABUSE OR MALTREATMENT IS NOT ENTITLED TO CONFIDENTIALITY OTHERWISE REQUIRED FOR ALL INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THE CENTRAL REGISTER. SUBSEQUENT TO THE CONCLUSION OF ALL PROCEEDINGS WHERE IT IS DETERMINED THAT A FALSE REPORT WAS FILED, THE NAME OF THE FALSE REPORTER AND THE NATURE OF THE FALSE REPORT MAY BE MADE PUBLIC IN WHOLE OR IN PART. SUCH INFORMATION SHALL BE ADMISSIBLE IN ANY CIVIL OR CRIMINAL PROCEEDING. (F) ANY PERSON MAKING A REPORT WHO IS ACTING IN GOOD FAITH IS IMMUNE FROM ANY LIABILITY UNDER THIS SECTION AND SHALL CONTINUE TO BE ENTITLED TO HAVE THE CONFIDENTIALITY OF THEIR IDENTITY MAINTAINED. S 2. This act shall take effect immediately.