DSS: Proposed bill may threaten safety of children

by Carol Thompson

A proposed bill before the New York State Senate has Oswego County Department of Social Services Commissioner Gregg Heffner concerned that, if passed, children could be placed in unsafe environments.

“It has some danger attached to it,” Heffner said of the bill. S6678-2011. The proposed law has already passed the state assembly.

The amendment to the Family Court law, presented by the office of court administration, would allow a Family Court judge to grant an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal during the fact-finding process, a critical time prior to disposition, Heffner said.

“There is a provision in this amendment that would provide additional power and authority to Family Court judges,” he noted. “The judge, without the consent of the social services department or the child’s attorney can adjourn in contemplation of dismissal the charges against the parent, even if the charges are proven in fact finding. It really creates a concern on our part.”

Heffner added that the efforts invested in a case and the safety of the child could be moot because the judge would have the power to adjourn in contemplation of dismissal without the consent of the department.

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