Senator Tim Kennedy and Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, both Democrats from Buffalo, launched an online petition to build support for the comprehensive series of legislation that they’ve proposed to strengthen and improve Child Protective Services in Erie County and across the state. Together, the bills introduced by Kennedy and Peoples-Stokes present major changes to a system long in need of reform.
Kennedy and Peoples-Stokes are encouraging Western New Yorkers to sign the petition to help demonstrate the widespread support for CPS reform. Broad public support will help compel the State Legislature to take action on this critical issue. The petition is accessible on Senator Kennedy’s website at: http://www.nysenate.gov/
With their legislation, Kennedy and Peoples-Stokes envision a Child Protective Services system that is more responsive, accountable, transparent and effective. Their proposals include a wide range of sweeping changes, which extend from new interviewing protocols to increased staff qualifications, and from restructured definitions of abuse to deeper and more thorough investigations.
“As a community and as a state, we must keep children safe from harm and ensure no family ever again has to suffer the pain of losing a child to abuse, especially once that child is in the hands of the system set up to protect them,” said Senator Kennedy.
“With our legislation,” Kennedy added, “we will make Child Protective Services more responsive and accountable, demand investigations are conducted more thoroughly, provide better training and preparation for CPS workers and enhance the effectiveness of the statewide hotline so that children in Erie County and across New York State are kept safe. However, to ensure our reform legislation is passed and signed into law this year, we need the community’s support. We encourage all who support CPS reform to sign the petition and help us demonstrate the urgency of immediate action to help protect children across the state.”
“Our hearts and prayers go out to the family of this most recent tragedy. How many more of our children need to suffer this fate before its understood that systemic reform of Child Protective Services is needed? There is something seriously wrong here – the system is failing those that it was set up to protect. We will continue to demand change to protect those that are the most vulnerable and will not rest until we get it,” said Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes, NYS Assemblymember, 141st District.
In several weeks, after the gathering of signatures, the petition and the signatures attached to it will be delivered to the legislative leaders of the Senate and Assembly, as well as the Governor, to stress the abundant public support for CPS reform. Those who want to sign the petition but do not have access to the internet can call Senator Kennedy’s office at 716-826-2683to add their name to this CPS reform effort.
This CPS reform effort follows the tragic deaths of several children in Erie County – which shed light on serious gaps and inadequacies within the system of Child Protective Services locally and statewide. In the days after five-year-old Eain Brooks died in September 2013, family members came forward with details of their numerous attempts to get Erie County Child Protective Services to intervene and stop the abuse Eain was suffering. In 2012, 10-year-old Abdi Mohamud was murdered by his stepfather after Erie County CPS conducted an investigation but did not take any action to remove him from the home.
Child Protective Services Reform Proposed by Kennedy and Peoples-Stokes:
- Ensuring Child Protective Services workers are properly trained for their unique and demanding work.
- New accountability by strengthening involvement of mandated reporters in CPS investigations.
- Reforming excessive corporal punishment statutes. Ensuring stronger, deeper investigations when violent, extreme and senseless corporal punishment is reported.
- Reforming protocols for the interviewing of children in suspected abuse cases to ensure stronger, more accurate and more thorough investigations.
- Strengthening the statewide child abuse hotline to track repeat reports of abuse.
- Improving investigations and ensuring accountability by requiring photographic evidence be gathered during caseworker visits.
More information on the CPS reform legislation proposed by Kennedy and Peoples-Stokes is available at: http://www.nysenate.gov/press-
And the CPS reform petition is accessible at: http://www.nysenate.gov/