After a year of pandemic-prompted shutdowns and widespread protests against racism and police brutality, the New York Legislature closed its session this month with notable reforms to the child welfare, youth justice and child care systems.
What follows is a roundup slideshow of key pieces of legislation that passed both Houses and await a decision by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D). The list also includes significant pieces of legislation that came up short. The governor has until the end of the year to receive bills from the Legislature and decide whether to sign or veto them.
Bills passed this year would prohibit the arrest and prosecution of children younger than age 12 and disallow the shackling of kids accused of crimes in family court; allow parents to petition for the right to visit children even after their custody rights have been terminated, and allow older teenagers who have previously left foster care to receive its extended care benefits that provide for housing and financial security.
Other significant pieces of legislation did not make it through the Legislature this session. They include two proposed laws that would have expanded access to child care subsidies for low-income, working families who earn amounts above the current threshold; another bill exempting foster youth ages 18 and older from having to get fingerprinted and undergo background checks to live in foster homes; and legislation that would have required consent before new moms and babies can be drug-tested in hospitals.
For more information on 2021’s key child welfare and youth justice legislation — and for interviews with two of the lawmakers who have been among the most involved in their progress — here are links to The Imprint’s previous coverage: