State Spotlight - New York
updated: March 2012
New York State Office of Children and Family Services
52 Washington Street
Rensselaer, NY 12144-2796
Phone: (518) 473-6239
In 1999, legislation was enacted authorizing the creation of local or regional child fatality review teams in New York. The New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) is the state agency responsible for various administrative functions relating to this program.
New York State Social Services Law Section 422-b
Chapter 136 of the Laws of 1999
Chapter Law 485 of the Laws of 2006
A CFRT must include, but is not limited to, representatives from the local Child Protective Service, OCFS, county department of health, or, should the locality not have a county department of health, the local health commissioner or his or her designee or the local public health director or his or her designee, Office of the Medical Examiner, or, should the locality not have a medical examiner, Office of the Coroner, Office of the District Attorney, Office of the County Attorney, local and state law enforcement, Emergency Medical Services and a pediatrician or comparable medical professional, preferably with expertise in the area of child abuse and maltreatment or forensic pediatrics. A CFRT may also include representatives from local departments of social services, mental health agencies, domestic violence agencies substance abuse programs, hospitals, local schools and the Family Court.
New York State Social Service Law allows a child fatality review team (CFRT) to be established at a local or regional level, with the approval of OCFS. The purpose of the CFRT is to review the death of any child whose care and custody or custody and guardianship has been transferred to an authorized agency, any child for whom child protective services has an open case, any child for whom the local department of social services has an open preventive services case, and in the case of a report made to the New York Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment involving the death of any child. A CFRT may also investigate any unexplained or unexpected death of any child under the age of eighteen.
A CFRT approved by OCFS has access to all records, except those protected by statutory privilege, within twenty-one days of receipt of request. Such access includes access to pending, indicated and unfounded reports of child abuse or maltreatment. Members of a CFRT, persons attending a meeting of a local or regional fatality review team, and persons who present information to a local or regional fatality review team have immunity from civil and criminal liability for all reasonable and good faith actions taken pursuant to this law, and may not be questioned in any civil or criminal proceeding regarding any opinions formed as a result of a meeting of the CFRT. A CRFT may exercise the same authority as OCFS with regard to the preparation of a child fatality report.
All meetings conducted and all reports and records made and maintained, and books and papers obtained, by a CFRT are confidential and not open to the general public except by court order and except for an annual report or a fatality report, if the team chooses to complete such a report. A CFRT may not redisclose confidential information, except where otherwise authorized by statute.
New York has local and regional review teams. There is no state
level advisory committee.
New York has local teams. The state level Regional Offices
of OCFS must be one of the members of each CFRT. The City of New York is
developing a review process.
Teams review cases involving children age 17 and younger. Deaths
are reviewed due to SIDS, homicides, suicides and abuse/neglect.
Additionally, cases that had involvement with OCFS and deaths of children
in foster care are reviewed.
The purpose of the New York child fatality review process is to prevent
future deaths, to assist in the investigative process and improve the social
Data collected for the review process includes information from databases
on child maltreatment and foster care children.
An annual report is submitted to the Governor and legislature.
It includes a section on recommendations directed at the state's child
advocacy system, not exclusively child fatality review.
To increase the use of safe sleep practices, OCFS is coordinating written materials used by front-line caseworkers, and starting production of a video for county child welfare staff. Distribution of the video is expected in 2012. Additional safe sleep materials, available at www.ocfs.state.ny.us/main/publications/, include:
- Keeping Sleeping Babies Safer brochure
- Tips Sheet: Safe to Sleep
- Tips Sheet: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
- Poster: What does a safe sleep environment look like?
In 2012, OCFS revised their templates for standard protocols and guidelines for the approval and certification of the 16 funded CFRTs in New York State.
During 2012, a training plan for CFRT coordinators will be developed by OCFS.