Legislative Advocacy Issues Survey

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Legislative Advocacy Issues Survey
Each year, Prevent Child Abuse New York identifies several child protection and child abuse prevention issues to bring to , the attention of our state legislators. Position papers that we develop for all of our issues become the basis of discussions , with legislators and their staff at the February Legislative Advocacy Conference and throughout the year.

The input of our statewide network is important to us as we consider where to focus our advocacy work during the year 2000. You are close to what’s happening. You bring a wealth of perspectives and concerns to the work of preventing child abuse in all its forms. We would appreciate your input.

Write your ideas below or on an attached sheet, and return it to Auriella Baker, Legislative Advocacy Chair, Prevent Child Abuse New York, 134 South Swan, Albany, NY 12210. Or email your ideas, (“Advocacy Issues” in the subject field) to [email protected] (Please be sure to let us know how to contact you. We may want to ask you for more information.)

Q:What are the important issues and concerns that should be raised with the legislature?

Name  Organization(if applicable)



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Provide $5,000,000 in the 1999 Budget for the William B. Hoyt Memorial Children and Family Trust Fund: Prevent Child Abuse New York joins with the Children and Family Trust Fund Advisory Board in urging legislators to provide the funding needed for the Trust Fund to continue with its clearly defined mission of family violence prevention. The amount requested would provide an essential $1,750.000 for continuation of previously funded programs and $3,250.00 in grants for new and necessary programs to combat the rise in child abuse, domestic violence and elder abuse.

The Children & Family Trust Fund was established by the NYS Legislature in 1984 to provide funding for prevention and intervention in all forms of family violence- child abuse, domestic violence, and elder abuse. It has funded the development of 180 programs throughout the state, using a variety of models including family resource centers, long-term intensive pre/neonatal home visitation to families at high risk of child abuse, school- community collaborations, parenting education and support, domestic violence and elder abuse outreach, advocacy, counseling and shelter services, school-based prevention, and caregiver support and respite.

Unfortunately, insufficient funding for the Trust Fund in recent years has slowed the development of family violence prevention services during the same period of time that incidence of family violence has increased. In the last funding cycle, the Trust Fund only had sufficient resources to fund 10% of the applications received pursuant to the Requsest for Proposal issued. It is beyond question that there is now a critical need to increase our commitment to abuse prevention . Effective models of programs that prevent family violence exist. Agencies across the state are prepared to respond to the prevention needs of their communities.
The NYS William B. Hoyt Memorial Children & Family Trust fund is a tremendous asset. It has served as a mechanism for New York State to leverage additional federal funding for child abuse prevention money through the Community-Based Family Resource Program (CBFRP). Last year the Trust Fund leveraged an additional $1,481, 286

Trust Fund Appropriations Leverage Federal Monies
NYS Trust Fund Appropriations

Federal Challenge/CA Prevention/CBFRP Grants

1985 $2,500,000  xxxxxxx 
1986 $ 100,000  $584,282
1987 $4,516,000 $391,035
1988 $3,011,000 $276,951
1989 $2,398,000 $203,090
1990 $1,083,000 $274,837
1991 $875,000   $160,071
1992 $750,000   $143,547
1993 $750,000   $136,731 
1994 $625,000   $123,543
1995 $300,000   $878,275
1996 $1,000,000 $687,017
1997 $1,000,000 $1,535,083
1998 $2,000,000 $1,481,286








Child abuse continues to be a serious national problem. Domestic violence has long been a dark secretin many homes, and abuse of the elderly is becoming more recognized. With the passage of the Children and Family Trust Fund Act in 1984, a program dedicated to preventing and treating all forms of family violence became a reality in New York State.

The New York State Legislature recognized that family violence was widespread. The 1984 landmark legislation served to create a new source of funding to support innova-tive prevention and intervention programs to reduce family violence and end it where it has occurred.

The Trust Fund, administered under the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, supports primary and secondary prevention programs to combat child abuse, and supports prevention and service programs for victims of domestic violence and elder abuse. In 1992, the fund was renamed to honor one of its creators, the late As-semblyman William B. Hoyt of Buffalo, and today is one of 52 trust funds in the nation dedicated to the prevention of child abuse. It is funded through an annual appropriation in the New York State budget and is one of only six funds in the nation to also include funding for domestic violence and elder abuse. Donations from private individuals, corporations and foundations are also permitted.

By law, 40 percent of the funds are awarded to child abuse and neglect prevention programs; 40 percent to domestic violence and elder abuse prevention and service programs; and 20 percent to regional or statewide family violence prevention programs. Projects are recommended for four-year funding (the first two years at 100 percent, the third year at 75 percent, and the fourth year at 50 percent).

Priority is given to programs that are innovative or have demonstrated effectiveness, and show potential for future financial self sufficiency. Those eligible for grants are local public agencies and not-for-profit corporations. The Hoyt Trust Fund is also eligible and has received federal funds for programs targeted for the prevention of child abuse.

To date, the Trust Fund has funded local service programs, community grants and statewide public education
and regional projects. Funded programs include shelter and non-residential services, school-based prevention, public education, outreach projects, advocacy and counseling. In recent grant cycles, public/private partnerships have been encouraged.

The Trust Fund Advisory Board is comprised of 13 members appointed by the Governor for a term of three
years, two each recommended by the Assembly Speaker and Senate Majority Leader, and one each by the minority leaders of the Assembly and Senate. The Governor designates one member to chair the board, which meets at least four times annually, alternating between New York City and Albany.

The visionary approach of the Trust Fund, with its four-year funding and professional evaluation of results,
has yielded programs that have made a demonstrated dif-ference in people’s lives.











HEALTHY FAMILIES NEW YORK The New York State Home Visiting Program

THE NEED: Increase funding for the NYS Home Visiting Program to $10.4 million funding, to sustain services at the 12 existing sites and establish the program in 6- 10 more communities, as a next step in moving toward the ability to provide the primary prevention service to all overburdened families in the state and assure healthy outcomes for their children.

The state budget released on January 27, 1999, allocates $6.2 million for the program, the same amount as was received by 10 of the 12 current sites during the past year. Additional funding is needed for: (1) existing sites to continue serving all new parents in their communities; caseloads for the 3-5 year service continue to grow as more children are born ($7.3 million); (2) expand the service to additional communities by providing service implementation grants for communities that have completed the planning phase, and planning grants for those communities that have just begun the collaborative site development process ($2.6 million); (3) continue providing training, technical assistance and evaluation for all program sites, to assure they maintain quality and achieve positive outcomes for the children and families they serve ($ 0.5 million).

THE NYS HOME VISITING PROGRAM, as of January 1999, has served 3,700 families in twelve communities across New York “right from the start,” 52% beginning prenatally.

  • Participating families are highly disadvantaged and face serious problems. At intake, 43% of the mothers were younger than 21 years old; 92% were living at the poverty level; 81% were unmarried; 53% had less than a high school education.
  • Health care and family functioning is improved. Child immunization rates are 96% compared to 80% of NYS kindergarten children. Families are significantly less likely to use emergency medical care. After a year of services, families had fewer problems with alcohol and other substance abuse, finances, housing and criminal activities.
  • The cost of the program is $2,500- $3,500 per family per year. 3-5 families can be served for the amount it costs to place one child in a foster boarding home.









III. Funding Family and Children’s Services

Prevent Child Abuse New York joins with the NYS Coalition for Children and Families to support the provision of a base grant allocation for one year and to create a Commission to develop policy recommendations for the future of children and family services in NYS including long term strategies for stabilizing funding and a vision for the system.

The family and children’s services block grant sunset on March 31, 1999, bringing to question how we will support child welfare services in the future. We have proposed a plan that will enable us to provide appropriate funding and policy directions for the safety and well being of children. We must start by rebuilding the partnership so that state and local governments will share family in the cost of providing services that preserve families and protect children from harm. The fiscal impact of upward swings in family court ordered services and reports of child abuse, as well as new mandates such as advanced computer systems and increased state training requirements for caseworkers, should not weigh so heavily on local government.

The Federal Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 carries with it demands to act swiftly to provide permanent homes for children or face severe fiscal sanctions. Ensuring a shared state and local partnership is critical in order for us to comply with this law and to address diminishing Federal revenue streams currently relied upon to fund child welfare services.

Through intensive casework and our collective efforts to help troubled families, many children can avoid or limit lengthy out-of-home placements. Enhanced state funding for preventive services would further stimulate efforts to help children at-risk. New research compiled by the National Institute of Justice in July 1988 confirms that frequent home visits and family therapy also reduce youth violence. The needs of children with serious emotional disturbance are inappropriately placed on the social services system. These children require therapeutic home-based and residential treatment facility based placements. New funding streams should be developed to support these options.

We need to have a new plan for funding family and children’s services in place in order to successfully protect at-risk children, preserve families, provide supportive adoptive homes and prevent abuse and neglect. We propose that immediate action steps are taken and that a Commission is appointed to develop long-term recommendations on child welfare policies.

1) Provide a base grant allocation for family and children’s services for one year inclusive of ALL of the state and federal revenue streams provided for child welfare in 1998.
2) Establish the state’s commitment to share at least equally in expenses beyond the grant allocation thereby rebuilding a partnership with local governments.
3) Authorize a Commission to develop policy recommendations on the future of family and children’s services including long-term strategies to strengthen and stabilize funding for child welfare services and a vision for the system. The Commission will review the complexity of the child welfare program requirements and financial structure and explore new Federal revenue streams and program models including Medicaid funded services. The commission will furnish a report to the governor and State Legislature by December 1, 1999. Members will be appointed by the Governor, Assembly and Senate, and will include local elected officials, social services and fiscal administrators and representatives from the State Office of Children and Family Services, provider organizations, advocacy groups, and other experts.

Coalition for Children and Families Members: NYS Association of Counties, New York Public Welfare Association, Council of Family and Child Caring Agencies, State Communities Aid Association, UJA-Federation, Citizens Committee for Children, NYS Coalition of 853 Schools, Human Services Council of New York City, Statewide Youth Advocacy, Prevent Child Abuse New York, Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, Neighborhood Family Services Coalition, NYS Catholic Conference.












IV. The Adoption and Safe Families Act and its Implications for New York State

Support for enacting viable state enabling legislation for compliance with the Federal Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 which carries with it demands to act swiftly to provide permanent homes for children or face severe fiscal sanctions.

The Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (ASFA) signals a dramatic policy shift that is intended to reduce the time children spend in foster care and make the child’s health and safety the paramount concern. It promotes permanency for children by imposing new timeframes and requirements that focus on reunification or adoption rather than temporary placement.

New York State’s lack of compliance with ASFA as of January 1, 1999 places us in jeopardy of losing $42 million in federal foster care dollars each for each month that NYS is out of compliance. New York State’s Termination of Parental Right’s statute(TPR) is at odds with ASFA requirements. Changes will be necessary to Section 384-b of the Social Services Law to create legal grounds for mandated termination filings,when to apply a “no reasonable efforts” ruling to TPR cases, and criminal records checks for foster care and adoptive homes.

While a legislative solution needs to be achieved immediately in order to come into basic compliance with AFSA, this is an issue that is a part of the larger need to develop long-term strategies for basic changes to New York State’s Child Welfare policies as addressed in our JOINT POSITION ON FUNDING FAMILY & CHILDREN’S SERVICES which calls for the creation of a Commission to develop recommendations on child welfare policies.

Funding and Support for enhancing and expanding professional Supervised Visitation Services for families who are before the courts in child custody/visitation , family offense, child abuse and neglect, and foster care proceedings.

Funding and Support for establishing and expanding the development of Children’s Advocacy Centers and Multi-Disciplinary Teams throughout NYS. In an era of managed care, a multi-disciplinary treatment team approach (providing specialized assessment and treatment to children who may have suffered from abuse and neglect) is not reimbursable as a specialized service. Many suspected victims of child abuse and neglect need specialized assessment and to be protected from further trauma that can be associated with insufficient diagnosis, assessment and treatment.










Prevent Child Abuse New York supports efforts to help legislators understand the need for Supervised Visitation Services for families who are before the court in child custody / visitation, family offense, child abuse and neglect, and foster care proceedings as well as outcomes for children in the absence of such services.

Supervised visitation is the provision and maintenance of a safe, neutral setting in which the contact between a child and their parent can be monitored by personnel able to protect the rights of the child. In families where there are concerns for the safety of the child because of domestic violence, child abuse, substance abuse, psychiatric disorder of the parent, extreme acrimony between the parents, fear of abduction of the child or sometimes when a child does not know their parent, supervised visitation can serve as a vehicle towards the re-acclimation and re-unification of the parent-child relationship.
Supervised Visitation serves two goals:

  • It provides a safe and comfortable setting for a parent and child to meet.
  • It provides the court with the opportunity to assess the interaction between a parent and their child.

Supervised visitation also provides the means by which a parent can relate to his or her child without the fear of interference, false accusation or disturbance from relatives, partners or friends. A recent study by The Association of the Bar of the City of New York found that in a one week period there was need for supervised visitation for 143 children who were before the courts in custody and visitation proceedings. This study was based on a survey of New York City Family Court Judges in which 29 of the 45 Judges participated. There are currently less than 100 slots available to families for supervised visiting in the entire city. Similar needs are noted throughout New York State.

The lack of funding for these programs has often led judges to recommend that a family member or friend be present at parent-child meetings. This third party is usually not neutral and may leave the parent and child unsupervised. A friend or family member may also not recognize a child’s signals of distress.

However, there are many situations where the child would be in danger, if not physically, then emotionally, if supervised visits did not take place. With very few exceptions, visits with the non custodial parent are crucial for a child’s well-being. Disrupting family ties may create anxiety for a child or leave the child presuming they are not loved by the non-custodial parent. The best interest of a child lies in being nurtured and guided by both parents. This service also saves money in reducing court time devoted to the case as well as the number of times families will return to court with violation and modification petitions. It behooves us to provide funding for this vital service.

  • Establishing A Statewide System and Enhanced Funding for Child Advocacy
  • We support the request that $3.2 million be included in the state budget to plan, develop and operate multidisciplinary teams and child advocacy centers. Many suspected victims of child abuse and neglect need specialized assessment and to be protected from further trauma that can be associated with a poor investigation. We also support enhanced reimbursement for child abuse evaluations , diagnosis, and treatment.

Child abuse is a complex and devastating problem which requires a highly specialized approach to evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment. There are medical, legal, child welfare, and mental health considerations that must be thoroughly, expertly, and sensitively addressed in a coordinated manner Advocacy centers and teams would facilitate the collection of evidence, interviews, and investigations. We are particularly concerned about the following problems that effect access to such quality, coordinated care in New York State:

  • When the possibility of child abuse is being investigated, the various related disciplines are not always coordinated, resulting in multiple invasive interviews and exams. This is particularly a problem when sexual abuse is suspected and children receive their initial evaluations by primary care and emergency room physicians untrained in the complexities of the problem. This can have devastating psychological costs for the affected children and families. It also has costs for society, when examinations must be repeated, and legal and family court proceedings are drawn out . When services are inadequately addressed, violations by offenders may lead to further victimization, and even further social problems.
  • Centers of excellence which do provide comprehensive evaluations for child sexual abuse are inadequately reimbursed–recouping only 14-22% of actual costs from the current Medicaid rate.
  • Comprehensive health and mental health services, especially emergency care, are not accessible when insurance companies do not cover them if performed at a child advocacy center.









To address these problems, we propose:

  • A system of child advocacy centers and/or community-based multi-disciplinary teams of experts. These teams should be created across the state to ensure quality provision of the full range of appropriate, coordinated services to victims and their families.
  • An enhanced reimbursement rate should be established for child sexual abuse evaluation services. This enhanced rate should be available only to recognized child protection centers and multi-disciplinary teams; or, where these options are not viable due to consideration of population density, to certified practitioners.· Insurance companies be mandated to cover health and mental health services provided to victims and suspected victims of abuse and neglect, including those provided at advocacy centers.
  • We also believe that the State Department of Health should develop Medicaid rates for authorized centers and teams. Contact Us!






For further information, contact us:
Prevent Child Abuse New York
134 S. Swan Street
Albany, NY 12210