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New legislation aimed at streamlining child abuse complaints

Doctors, nurses and law enforcement officials who report child abuse to the state hotline may find the system moving faster than ever if new legislation aimed at streamlining the process is approved in Albany. 

The State Senate is expected to consider a measure that would allow the State Child Abuse hotline to immediately refer complaints filed by mandated reporters directly to local Child Protective Services Departments. Currently, those complaints are screened by hotline officials, who make a determination whether to forward the report to local C-P-S officials. 

"This legislation was introduced in response to a murder of a 3-year-old boy from Sullivan County by the name of Christopher Gardner," says State Senator Tim Kennedy. "Two phone calls were made to the state's child abuse hotline reporting abuse to Christopher that were never investigated, including one of those reports from a mandated reporter. After his death, prosecutors said there wasn't an inch on the boy's body that didn't have a bruise or a burn. His mother and her friend were ultimately sentenced to life behind bars for their role in his death."

"There's absolutely no downside to this legislation, "says Kennedy, one of the bill's sponsors. "This is going to make the system more efficient and effective. It's going to streamline the system. These are mandated reporters, law enforcement personnel, medical personnel, that recognize abuse when they see it and are mandated by law to report that abuse. It is the bureaucratic system that unfortunately slows down the process that we are working to streamline with this legislation."

Kennedy is optimistic the bill has the momentum to make make it through the Senate and Assembly and reach the governor's desk.