2008-07-18 / Top Stories

Assembly Passes Legislation That Better Protects Children

Assemblywoman Michele R. Titus announced the Assembly's passage of legislation that would fully disqualify the application of prospective foster parents previously convicted of violent felonies, including child and sexual abuse, physical assault and battery and homicide.

This measures aimed at protecting foster children from potentially dangerous living situations, would bring New York into compliance with the federal Adam Walsh Protection and Safety Act, which requires states to conduct criminal background checks and reject foster care applicants convicted of violent crimes.

Currently, New York State conducts criminal history reviews of those applying to be foster care providers. State law does permit applicants with a disqualifying criminal history to become foster care providers if they can demonstrate that their denial would cause a significant risk of mental or physical hardship to the child for whom they are seeking to care. Under the legislation passed, this provision would be eliminated. In order to receive federal assistance for foster care programs, New York must comply with the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act by October 1, 2008.

In addition to this new policy, Assemblywoman Titus put forth measures to prevent a child from being taken into protective custody based on an allegation that a custodial parent or guardian suffers from Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy without a hearing in family court.

This bill would require a formal hearing before the child is removed based on an allegation of Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy. The child's pediatrician or primary care physician would be allowed to rebut the allegation at the hearing. It also would apply to any child currently in protective custody.

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