Relates to the authority of district attorneys to hire and retain licensed professionals.
Ayes (56): Addabbo, Avella, Ball, Bonacic, Breslin, Carlucci, DeFrancisco, Diaz, Dilan, Duane, Farley, Flanagan, Fuschillo, Gallivan, Gianaris, Golden, Griffo, Grisanti, Hannon, Hassell-Thomps, Johnson, Kennedy, Klein, Krueger, Lanza, Larkin, LaValle, Libous, Little, Marcellino, Martins, Maziarz, McDonald, Montgomery, Nozzolio, Oppenheimer, Parker, Peralta, Ranzenhofer, Ritchie, Rivera, Robach, Saland, Sampson, Savino, Serrano, Seward, Skelos, Smith, Squadron, Stavisky, Stewart-Cousin, Storobin, Valesky, Young, Zeldin
Excused (6): Adams, Alesi, Espaillat, Huntley, O'Mara, Perkins
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the county law, in relation to the authority of district attorneys to hire and retain licensed professionals
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: Section 1 adds a new subdivision 13 to section 700 of the County Law which codifies the authority of District Attorneys to employ or contract with licensed professionals in order to serve the mental health needs of crime victims, witnesses, and others impacted by the criminal justice system.
Section 2 makes the act effective immediately provided that, for purposes of satisfying the experience requirements for licensure set forth in Article 153, 154, or 163 of the Education Law, satisfactory experience obtained in the office of a district attorney providing services authorized in section 700 of the County Law may be accepted by the Department of Education, notwithstanding that such experience may have been obtained prior to the effective date of such section 700(13).
PURPOSE AND JUSTIFICATION:
New York State law was amended in 2002 by Chapter 420 to establish restricted scopes of practice for social workers and Chapter 676 to do the same for psychologists and mental health practitioners. As a result of these laws, these professional services could be provided only by licensed individuals, professional business entities, or those otherwise authorized by law.
It quickly became apparent that these new laws would have the unintended effect of prohibiting the provision of professional services in myriad settings, such as not-for-profit service providers, schools, and religious institutions. Additionally, those seeking the experience required for licensure could not count experience obtained in entities that lacked the authority to provide professional services. The legislature recognized this issue, and not wanting to disrupt vital crisis intervention services, by Chapters 130 and 132 of the Laws of 2010, created a waiver process so that affected organizations could continue legally employing licensed professionals.
The waiver, however, is only available for educational, religious, or not-for-profit institutions. Unfortunately, some long-established critical services take place outside of these categories. District Attorney's Offices are one of the settings that continue to be impacted by the statutory restrictions.
For more than a quarter of a century, District Attorney's Offices have employed licensed mental health professionals to provide counseling, crisis intervention, and support to victims, witnesses, and people who have been impacted by crime or the criminal justice system. This inter vention recognizes that victims and witnesses often require easily accessed, specialized services in order to process, and move forward from, sometimes horrific crimes. Victims in an otherwise inherently adversarial system often benefit substantially from clinical support, and the fast intervention of forensic professionals provides victims and witnesses with valuable connections to long-term, outside clinical services that can help them continue the path to healing.
In addition, District Attorneys are increasingly embracing their integral roles in the new paradigm of problem-solving justice. To that end, they are adopting innovative crime reduction and crime prevention strategies that target individuals who are at risk of becoming involved or re-involved in the criminal justice system. All too frequently, those who engage in criminal conduct may themselves have been victims or witnesses of abuse or other crimes. Clients who participate in the crime reduction programs which are run or sponsored by District Attorney's Offices benefit greatly from the expert counseling that licensed mental health professionals can provide.
It is essential that these services continue. The licensed professionals are practicing within their scopes of practice and are appropriately supervised in accordance with the requirements of the education law and regulation. Nearly three decades of clients, which now increasingly encompass at-risk youth, can attest to why these services are absolutely essential.
This bill codifies the right of a District Attorney to employ licensed practitioners to provide mental health services to people who are impacted by crime and the criminal justice system.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: None.
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None.
EFFECTIVE DATE: Immediate.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 7538 IN SENATE May 31, 2012 ___________Introduced by Sens. SALAND, GOLDEN -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Local Government AN ACT to amend the county law, in relation to the authority of district attorneys to hire and retain licensed professionals THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Section 700 of the county law is amended by adding a new subdivision 13 to read as follows: 13. IN ORDER TO PROVIDE SERVICES TO CRIME VICTIMS, WITNESSES, AND OTHER PERSONS INVOLVED IN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM, AND TO SUPPORT CRIME PREVENTION PROGRAMS, THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY MAY EMPLOY OR CONTRACT WITH PERSONS LICENSED AND REGISTERED TO PRACTICE OR OTHERWISE AUTHORIZED UNDER ARTICLE ONE HUNDRED FIFTY-THREE, ONE HUNDRED FIFTY-FOUR, OR ONE HUNDRED SIXTY-THREE OF THE EDUCATION LAW, OR CONTRACT WITH ENTITIES AUTHORIZED TO PROVIDE THE SERVICES SPECIFIED IN SUCH ARTICLES, IN CONNECTION WITH THE PROVISION OF ANY SERVICES THAT SUCH PERSONS OR ENTI- TIES ARE AUTHORIZED TO PROVIDE AND THAT ARE AUTHORIZED BY THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY. S 2. This act shall take effect immediately, provided that, for purposes of satisfying the experience requirements for licensure set forth in article 153, 154, or 163 of the education law, satisfactory experience obtained in the office of a district attorney providing services authorized in section 700 of the county law may be accepted by the education department, notwithstanding that such experience may have been obtained prior to the effective date of this act.EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD16103-01-2