Santabarbara: Protecting Disabled Children and Their Families

Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara (D-Rotterdam) announced that Governor Cuomo has signed legislation he supported that will strengthen Jonathan’s Law. The new statute will clarify that parents and guardians of children in the care of state-run facilities can share reports of abuse and neglect of their loved ones with healthcare providers, lawyers and law enforcement officials (Chap. 395 of 2013).

“Parents and guardians deserve the peace of mind to know that their children are receiving the care they deserve and that there are consequences for individuals who have abused or neglected their loved ones,” Santabarbara noted.

Jonathan’s Law is named after Jonathan Carey, a 13-year-old boy with autism who died from abuse inflicted on him by an employee of a state facility run by the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) in 2007. The law was originally designed to protect vulnerable children in the care of OPWDD facilities from instances of abuse and neglect by informing parents or legal guardians of any accidents or injuries that could affect the health or safety of an individual receiving care or treatment.

The problem was, once parents and guardians were made aware of these instances, they were oftentimes unsure of what they could do with the reports provided to them. The new law explicitly states that a parent or guardian who receives a report of abuse or neglect may share it with health care providers, behavioral health care providers, law enforcement officials or the recipient’s attorney.

The law will take effect immediately.