NYS Seal



*ATTENTION: Due to an overwhelming response, The New York City hearing on has been extended to occur over two days, Thursday, February 9th and Friday, February 10th . *


Oversight and accountability of the child welfare system.


To evaluate the ability of the child welfare system to protect abused children.

New York City
February 9, 2006
10:30 AM
250 Broadway
Assembly Hearing Room 1923, 19th Floor

New York City
February 10, 2006
10:30 AM
250 Broadway
Assembly Hearing Room 1923, 19th Floor

February 16, 2006
10:30 AM
Buffalo and Erie County Public Library
One Lafayette Square

March 2, 2006
10:30 AM
Onondaga County Legislative Chambers
County Courthouse
401 Montgomery Street
Room 407

The protection of children is one of the paramount responsibilities of government. New York State upholds that responsibility with its child welfare system and the care and protection of children who have been abused or neglected. Recent deaths of four children whose families were known to the Administration for Children's Services have raised concerns about the safety and well-being of children who are in need of the State's care and protection. Incidents such as the deaths of seven-year old Nixzmary Brown, sixteen-month old Dahquay Williams, seven-year old Sierra Robert and two-month old Michael Segarra all raise concerns about the quality of care being provided to children that are under the supervision of or known to the child welfare system.

The system clearly failed these children. It has been documented that there were many eyes on these children and yet, they still suffered horrible deaths. The system that is supposed to watch over and protect innocent and vulnerable children failed because of unchecked and unchallenged decisions made by those very people who were supposed to protect them. These deaths raise grave concerns about the quality of protection and care that children in New York State are receiving. How did these and other children die and who is responsible for their death? Were there opportunities to help these children? How did the child protective system respond when concerns where raised? It is very clear that there are serious, systemic failures with regard to the way children are cared for in this State.

The Committees are interested in eliciting testimony regarding the ability of the current child welfare system to protect children from abuse, neglect and death and the coordination between the multiple systems that interface with the victims of child abuse. Additionally, the Committees are interested in soliciting testimony for potential policy changes to improve the current system.

Please see below for a list of subjects to which witnesses may direct their testimony, which will be discussed at the hearing.

Persons wishing to present pertinent testimony to the Committees at the above hearing should complete and return the reply form as soon as possible. It is important that the reply form be fully completed and returned so that persons may be notified in the event of emergency postponement or cancellation.

Oral testimony will be limited to 10 minutes' duration. In preparing the order of witnesses, the Committees will attempt to accommodate individual requests to speak at particular times in view of special circumstances. These requests should be made on the attached reply form or communicated to Committee staff as early as possible. In the absence of a request, witnesses will be scheduled in the order in which reply forms are postmarked.

Ten copies of any prepared testimony should be submitted at the hearing registration desk. The Committee would appreciate advance receipt of prepared statements.

In order to further publicize these hearings, please inform interested parties and organizations of the Committees' interest in hearing testimony from all sources.

In order to meet the needs of those who may have a disability, the Assembly, in accordance with its policy of non-discrimination on the basis of disability, as well as the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), has made its facilities and services available to all individuals with disabilities. For individuals with disabilities, accommodations will be provided, upon reasonable request, to afford such individuals access and admission to Assembly facilities and activities.

William Scarborough
Member of Assembly
Committee on Children and Families

James Brennan
Member of Assembly
Committee on
Oversight, Analysis and Investigation


  1. Does the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) provide oversight of local child welfare services, including child protective services (CPS)? If so, what kind of oversight do they provide? Is this oversight sufficient to protect children and to ensure that policies and procedures are being followed? What role does the OCFS regional office's play?

  2. How much uniformity does OFCS require of local child protective services policies and procedures? Are there different standards, procedures and policies in different parts of the state?

  3. Should there be uniform standards for what constitutes educational neglect in state law? If so, what should those standards be? Should there be a standard protocol for CPS response to educational neglect allegations? If so, what should they be?

  4. What policies and procedures do CPS departments follow to assess risk and ensure child safety? Do policies and procedures followed by CPS need to be changed in order to prevent future tragedies?

  5. OCFS is responsible for administering the State Central Registry of Child Abuse and Maltreatment (SCR). Are the requirements for the SCR to accept reports of child abuse or neglect adequate to protect children? If the report is not accepted and hence, not investigated, is there any record of the abuse allegations? If so, is this information accessible to CPS and or law enforcement?

  6. The education system interfaces with potential victims of child abuse on a daily basis. Are existing policies and procedures sufficient to ensure that educational providers interact effectively with CPS and or law enforcement? Besides being mandated reporters, what other role should school officials play? Are necessary resources available to help educational institutions protect children?

  7. Police departments work with child protective units to ensure the safety of the staff and to follow up on criminal behavior. What role should law enforcement play in child abuse investigations? Do they have enough resources to investigate child abuse cases? What cases would be appropriate for them to investigate? Is special training needed for law enforcement officers to investigate allegations of abuse?

  8. What is the interplay and communication between CPS, school systems, police departments and families? What can be done to increase collaboration and effective responses to potential child abuse?

  9. What accountability is there in the child welfare system when child abuse continues under the supervision of child welfare workers? What is the daily supervision and support of field workers? Are more resources and training needed to make appropriate safety assessments and decisions?

  10. What training do mandated reporters receive to adequately identify, document and report child abuse as required by them in statute? What training do physicians receive to adequately identify and respond to abuse and or neglect?

  11. Are improvements to "Connections", a computer system implemented and administered by OCFS, needed to ensure timely investigations and accurate information management of child abuse cases? How is "Connections" being used to facilitate communications between multiple systems? Are there ways this function can be improved?

  12. What role do Child Advocacy Centers play and are they being used appropriately to identify abuse and further risk factors?

  13. What is being done in other parts of the state or country that has proven effective in preventing further abuse and death of children who have been previously identified as at risk for abuse?

  14. What is currently being done in the wake of these tragedies? Are there any legislative changes needed to ensure that abused children are appropriately identified and protected by local CPS departments? Are there existing barriers in state law that may prevent optimum safety for abused children?

  15. Is there a need for an independent Office of the Child Advocate to provide additional oversight and accountably of the child welfare system?


Persons wishing to present testimony at the public hearing on Oversight and Accountability of the Child Welfare System are requested to complete this reply form as soon as possible and mail it to:

Jennifer Best
Committee Assistant
Assembly Committee on Children and Families
Room 522 - Capitol
Albany, New York 12248
Email: bestj@assembly.state.ny.us
Phone: (518) 455-4371
Fax: (518) 455-4693

box I plan to attend the following public hearing on Oversight and Accountability of the Child Welfare System to be conducted by the Assembly Committee on Children and Families and the Committee on Oversight, Analysis and Investigation on
box February 9, 2006 in NYC,
box February 10, 2006 in NYC,
box February 16, 2006 in Buffalo,
box March 2, 2006 in Syracuse.

box I plan to make a public statement at the hearing. My statement will be limited to 10 minutes, and I will answer any questions which may arise. I will provide 10 copies of my prepared statement.


I will address my remarks to the following subjects:

box I do not plan to attend the above hearing.

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