Position Statement – 2020
A.10513 (Hevesi)/ S.8421A (Persaud)
Social Services Law Section 409 defines “preventive services” to mean supportive and rehabilitative services provided, in accordance with the provisions of the title and regulations of the department, to children and their families for the purpose of averting an impairment or disruption of a family which will or could result in the placement of a child in foster care; enabling a child who has been placed in foster care to return or his or her family at an earlier time than would have otherwise been possible; or reducing the likelihood that a child who has been discharged from foster are would return to foster care.
Section 409(a) of the current law contains ten (10) paragraphs the first of which provides, in pertinent part, that child preventive services shall be provided to a child and his or her family in accordance with the family’s service plan upon a finding that (1) the child will be placed, returned or continued in foster care unless such services are provided and that it is reasonable to believe that by providing such services the child will remain with or be returned to his or her family or (2) if a child is subject of an article 7 petition in Family Court or at risk of being subject to such a petition and the social services official determines that the child is at risk of being placed in foster care. The findings are then entered in the child’s uniform case record.
This bill adds a new subdivision 11 to section 409(a) to require stricter and more detailed reporting on child preventive services. It requires, among other things, that the Office of Children and Families will make an annual report to the Governor and the Legislature which will include, by local social services district, the total number of children and families receiving services at the end of each month, as well as the total annual number of unduplicated children and families receiving preventive services including how many new preventive services were opened during the preceding calendar year and if practical, the referral service; the average length of time preventive services were provided during the preceding year and whether cases were closed during the year; and detail about services provided.
The addition of subdivision 11 to section 409(a) is of great importance during the pandemic and the climate which will emerge thereafter. Many families face unemployment and the inability to meet their basic needs and the needs of their children. Many children are lacking the mental and health care they need due to COVID and the stress that the pandemic has wreaked upon their families. These children could be lost in the system.
Subdivision 11 does not address what actions will be taken by government officials after the reporting period and, specifically, how quickly the actions will be taken. However, by requiring the Office of Children and Family Services to make annual reports, this bill will give the Governor and the Legislature the tools to monitor and make sure that services are adequate to protect these vulnerable children. Since the information will be divided according to local social services districts, it should help to make sure that funding allocated among social services districts is rational. Therefore, WBASNY supports this bill.