At Tilem & Campbell, our lawyers are used to taking on Child Protective Services and the maddening delays and confusion associated with the State Child Abuse Registry. A federal lawsuit filed in 2004 and just settled, challenged the Office of Children and Families for delaying fair hearings usually over a year while people on the registry either lost or could not get jobs. Others were simply denied hearings altogether because New York State arbitrarily decided that the people who requested the hearings sometimes waived them. In a settlement approved by Federal District Judge Shira A. Sheindlin last week, The New York State Office of Children and Families has agreed to complete hearings within 4 months for everyone whose job is affected by the finding and 8 moths for everyone else.
In a sign that the Office of Children and Families is attempting to reduce some of the backlog, this firm has already received at least one call from the State indicating that they will not be going forward on a hearing against one our clients and therefore agreed to an amendment of the finding of Inadequate Guardianship.
In our experience, the State rarely wins these hearings if they are challenged and the tactics of delay and confusion are nothing more than an attempt to deny people their right to a hearing. This settlement should be welcome news for anyone who finds themselves entangled in the Child Abuse system in New York.
In addition, we find that often after we timely demand a hearing by certified mail, return receipt requested that the State often notifies the firm that our request for a hearing is too late.
In sum, navigating the New York Child Abuse system can be a nightmare. Without an experienced child abuse attorney in can be almost impossible. Hopefully, this settlement will be a step in the right direction. If you have any questions or comment, do not hesitate to contact us.