What is considered abuse or neglect?

New York law defines abuse and neglect of vulnerable persons in broad terms, including both actual harm and the risk of harm. The following are a list of terms and some examples.

Physical Abuse

Intentional contact (hitting, kicking, shoving, etc.) corporal punishment, injury which cannot be explained and is suspicious due to extent or location, the number of injuries at one time, or the frequency over time

Psychological  Abuse

Taunting, name calling, using threatening words or gestures 

Sexual Abuse

Inappropriate touching, indecent exposure, sexual assault, taking or distributing sexually explicit pictures, voyeurism or other sexual exploitation  

Neglect

Failure to provide  supervision, or adequate food, clothing, shelter, health care; or access to an educational entitlement 

Deliberate misuse of restraint or seclusion

Use of these interventions with excessive force, as a punishment or for the convenience of staff 

Controlled Substances

Using, administering or providing any controlled substance contrary to law  

Aversive conditioning

Unpleasant physical stimulus used to modify behavior without person-specific legal authorization   

Obstruction

Interfering with the discovery, reporting or investigation of abuse / neglect, falsifying records or intentionally making false statements 

Who are vulnerable persons?

Vulnerable persons are individuals with special needs who are receiving supports or services at state operated, licensed and certified facilities and programs.

How and where do I report abuse and neglect?

Reports of suspected abuse and neglect of a person in state care should be made immediately--at any time of the day or night and on any day of the week—by telephone to the Vulnerable Persons Central Register Hotline (sometimes referred to as VPCR). If an individual is in immediate danger you will be asked to hang up and call 9-1-1.   The telephone numbers to contact the VPCR hotline are:

Vulnerable Persons Central Register (VPCR) Hotline Number:

TOLL FREE: 1-855-373-2122

Free language services available.

Relay users, please dial 7-1-1 and give the operator 1-855-373-2122

If you are reporting abuse or maltreatment of a child by a parent or other person legally responsible for that child, or by a day care program, please call the NY Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment at 1-800-342-3720.  Additional information can be found on the NYS Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) website at http://ocfs.ny.gov/main/cps/faqs.asp

What information will I be asked to provide?

The trained call center representative who answers your call will ask you for as much information as you can provide about the suspected abuse, neglect or maltreatment and the location where it occurred. Below are examples of some of the questions you might be asked when you call.  

  • What is the victim’s name?
  • What happened to the victim?
  • Who caused the harm?
  • Where did the incident occur?
Will the person(s) know that I reported him or her?

All reports are confidential. The law provides protections against the disclosure of a reporter’s identity, subject to limited exceptions such as consent from the reporter or in the event of a court order. The law grants immunity to voluntary reporters and Mandated Reporters from any legal claims which may arise from a good faith act of providing information to the Vulnerable Persons Central Register Hotline.  An employer or agency is prohibited from taking any retaliatory action against a person who has made a good faith act of providing information to the hotline.

Are calls to the VPCR Hotline recorded?

Yes, all calls made to the Vulnerable Persons Central Register Hotline are recorded for quality assurance.

Who is a mandated reporter?

Mandated Reporters are (1) Custodians and (2) Human Service Professionals. 

1.      Custodians:

Custodians are individuals who are employed by, or volunteer at, state operated, licensed or certified facilities or agencies under the Justice Center’s jurisdiction. Consultants, volunteers or contractors of organizations or companies that contract with facilities and agencies under the Justice Center’s jurisdiction are also considered to be custodians if they have regular and substantial contact with a service recipient. 

2.      Human Service Professionals 

Medical/Clinical Professionals

Physician
Resident
Intern
Registered Physician Assistant
Surgeon
Podiatrist
Chiropractor
Osteopath
Optometrist
Medical Examiner
Coroner
Dentist
Dental Hygienist
Registered Nurse
Licensed Practical Nurse
Nurse Practitioner
Mental Health Professional
Psychologist
Licensed Psychoanalyst
Social Worker
Christian Science Practitioner
Emergency Medical Technician
Person Credentialed by OASAS
Hospital Personnel Engaged in the Admission, Examination, Care or Treatment
Licensed Creative Arts Therapist
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Licensed Mental Health Counselor
Licensed Behavior Analyst and Certified Behavior Analyst
Licensed Speech/Language Pathologist or Audiologist
Licensed Physical Therapist
Licensed Occupational Therapist

 

Education Professionals

School Teacher
School Guidance Counselor
School Psychologist
School Social Worker
School Nurse
Social Services Worker
School Administrator
Other School Personnel Required to Hold a Teaching or Administrative License or Certificate
Full or part-time compensated school employee required to hold a temporary coaching license or professional coaching certificate
Any other Child Care or Foster Care Worker

 

Law Enforcement Personnel

Peace Officer
Police Officer
District Attorney or Assistant District Attorney
Investigator employed in the office of a district attorney
Any other Law Enforcement Official

What happens when the VPCR Hotline receives a report?

A trained call center representative will first determine if an emergency response is necessary and/or if the person receiving services faces imminent danger.  If it is an emergency situation, the representative will instruct the caller to phone 9-1-1 immediately, if this has not yet occurred.  A Justice Center supervisor will also contact the appropriate agency supervisor to inform him/her of the report.

When a caller makes a report, the call center representative carefully enters all details of the incident into an automated case management system.  Serious abuse and neglect cases will be investigated by the Justice Center, with lesser offenses generally delegated to the appropriate state agency for investigation.  If criminal conduct may be involved, the Justice Center’s Special Prosecutor/Inspector General will investigate and prosecute offenders when the evidence warrants such action.

What happens after I make a report?

The Justice Center has a fully staffed investigations unit that will investigate the most serious cases of abuse and neglect.  Upon receipt of an incident report, Justice Center staff will review all cases and assign to either the Justice Center Investigations unit or another appropriate entity for investigation.  Allegations that rise to the level of a criminal offense will be investigated by the Justice Center’s Special Prosecutor/Inspector General.

Where can I find the laws pertaining to the Justice Center?

The “Protection of People with Special Needs Act” created new safeguards for people with special needs who are served by state operated, licensed or certified facilities and programs. These standards and practices have been implemented to protect individuals in state care against abuse, neglect or other conduct that would jeopardize their health, safety and welfare.  

The agencies include: the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), the Office of Mental Health (OMH), the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS); the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS), certain adult homes overseen by the Department of Health (DOH) and residential schools and programs overseen by the State Education Department (SED). 

Chapter 501 of the Laws of 2012 defines abuse and neglect, vulnerable persons and the process and procedures regarding Justice Center investigations, outcomes and records.