I have introduced legislation in the New York State Senate, Bill S. 7514, that will establish a temporary commission to study child abuse prevention and make recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature for the implementation of child abuse prevention programs across New York State. The legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Frank Padavan (R-Queens) and Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island).
There is no place in our homes, our schools or our society for child abuse, and the unfortunate reality is that it is happening too much here in New York. I have introduced this legislation because it is time we become more pro-active in our approach to child abuse, rather than just reacting to news reports and horror stories. In many cases, intervention and counseling can prevent cases of child abuse and we need to figure out how to reverse the trend that is damaging families.
Child abuse prevention programs address not only child abuse prevention but other aspects of family dynamics that threaten child and family well-being. These threats include preventable health conditions such as low birth weight, infant mortality, drug-addicted babies and more. These programs often provide referrals, education, expertise and most importantly stability for at-risk families. Some of the programs offered also focus on training for new parents.
Currently, these preventive programs have proven to be effective, but are currently only available to a small number of families at risk of abuse and neglect. Home visitations are only available to about 10% to 14% of eligible families. The temporary Commission would study the availability of successful prevention programs and recommend to the Governor and the State Legislature as to the best way to expand their services to more families at risk.
I am hopeful that this Commission will win the legislative support of my colleagues in both the Senate and the Assembly, so that the work can begin to prevent the abuse of children and save families here in New York State.
There are approximately 80,000 children found to be victims of child abuse and maltreated each year in New York State. There are more than 33,000 of these cases annually in New York City.