New Law Bolsters Screening of Potential Foster Parents

In 2015, New York will need local social service agencies to screen possible foster parents to decide whether they have had previous licenses cancelled or children removed from their care and to give the reasons why.

It is said that in June, the new law will be effective and need the local agency commissioner to evaluate the history of removals and revocations to close information gaps in the current system.  The bill is A08474/S06875.

The most recent data from the state Office of Children and Family Services showed that the number of child abuse and neglect came down from 2% of 41,023 children in foster care in 2009 to 1.2% of 34,679 children in 2012.

Office of Children and Family Services separately reported that 27 children died in New York foster care in 2008-2009, with 19 deaths attributed to natural causes, two to accidents, one homicide, and five deaths undetermined or causes pending.

At the time of signing the bill, it was said that lawmakers have agreed to amendments that need screenings based on the statewide automated child welfare information system, a broader database than the child abuse registry.

Search of records could otherwise delay or stop foster placements to homes where children were formerly health residential removed for valid reasons, like being returned to a biological parent or for mental treatment.

According to the Office of Children and Family Services, the welfare information system comprises of caseworker notes about foster care removals and is currently accessible to local social service commissioners in all 62 counties. The organization said that the latest law will fundamentally codify existing practice.

There was another bill that was signed by the governor, A09702/S7667 that amends the social services law to permit local agencies to insert written comments to child fatality reports. Legislative sponsors said that those reports to Office of Children and Family Services do not feature situations that can consist of drug misuse, hazardous consumer products, drowning, fires, suicides, automobile crashes and window falls, or recommendations to prevent future incidents.

It was said by the governor that legislators have approved to an amendment to that new law to clarify that family privacy will be considered and that additional facts do not reveal information confidential under other laws.

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