Mark Poloncarz has worked to strengthen Erie County’s Child Protective Services Division. However, there is only so much we can do locally because there are systemic issues at the state level that need to be addressed to truly reform Child Protective Services. Right now we have a system stacked against CPS workers.
Pending legislation in the NYS Senate, that is no doubt well intentioned, actually makes it harder for Child Protective Services to do its job. That's why, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz is leading the way for CPS reform statewide with a comprehensive package of proposals that is common-sense, easy to implement, and long overdue. Passage of these reforms will ensure a stronger system to protect children, not just in Erie County, but statewide.
Poloncarz has developed 19 proposals that fall into five categories: Increasing CPS Powers to Help Children; Improving the Quality of Reporting to the Statewide Central Register (“SCR”); Punishing Abusers and Protecting Children; Modernizing the Child Welfare System; and Other Critical Reforms.
•Creating a new felony crime of endangering the welfare of a child, boosting the current misdemeanor penalty from one year in jail to up to seven years in jail if there are aggravating circumstances;
•Increasing CPS powers to help children by creating a presumption of neglect if there is an incident of excessive corporal punishment, which will make it easier for child protection agencies to make a finding of abuse that will allow Family Court to take appropriate action to protect a child, up to removing a child when a guardian poses a risk to the child;
•Creating a presumption of neglect against a parent when a child is born with a positive toxicology for controlled substances;
•Allowing the Department of Social Services to subpoena records held by private entities (such as hospitals) for use in any investigation of any report received from the State Central Register relating to abuse or neglect and require state and local agencies including the state police and the state division of criminal justice services to provide information contained in their databases within 72 hours of a request about locations and persons alleged to have been involved in abuse or neglect of a child. This will allow for more complete and rapid investigations; and,
•Increasing the criminal penalties to a felony for knowingly making false allegations of suspected abuse or neglect of a child and also establish a civil penalty for making false allegations of suspected abuse or neglect of a child; among others.
These reforms are vital to bringing New York State’s Child Protective Services system into the 21st century and will aid immediately in the investigation and prosecution of suspected abuse. When CPS law was created over 40 years ago, there was no conception of either the challenges the law would face today or the tools available to help it meet those challenges.
Call on the NYS Legislature to make our children safer by enacting this legislation into state law.
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