The Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs Executive Director Denise M. Miranda announced the Justice Center conducted several presentations and trainings in May, as part of the agency’s ongoing efforts to educate provider agencies and caregivers about incident reporting and the Justice Center’s abuse prevention initiatives, and to enhance the knowledge and skills of investigators.

The Justice Center conducted education and outreach presentations and training sessions at locations in Albany, Dutchess, Franklin, Kings, New York, Niagara, Onondaga, Saratoga and Westchester counties to staff and investigators employed by both state and non-state operated service providers. Some presentations were made in conjunction with service provider agencies under the jurisdiction of the Justice Center.

Education and Outreach

The Justice Center works in partnership with provider agencies and their staff in training everyone involved with the care of people with special needs about the importance of reporting abuse and neglect, and their obligations under the law. “The Justice Center recognizes and appreciates the challenges faced by employees who provide services to people with special needs,” said Justice Center Deputy Director of Outreach, Prevention, and Support Davin Robinson. “Because we appreciate those challenges, we want to help staff understand what their obligations are when they see or become aware of incidents of abuse and neglect of people receiving care.”

In May, the Justice Center made presentations to family members of people receiving services, staff members employed state agencies whose programs the Justice Center oversees, as well as direct care staff at the Block Institute in Brooklyn, JCCA Edenwald Residential Treatment Center in Pleasantville, and Astor Services in Rhinebeck. Executive Director Miranda provided an overview of the Justice Center at the United Cerebral Palsy of NYS and NYSARC Conference in Saratoga County. Presentations were also given about the Justice Center’s Individuals, Family and Support, and Prevention & Quality Improvement programs at the Families Together in NYS Annual Conference in Albany County.

Investigative Training

The Justice Center trains investigators and law enforcement personnel on appropriate and effective methods to investigate allegations that people with special needs have been abused or neglected.

In May, the Justice Center’s Office of Investigations presented two sessions entitled, “Investigating Allegations of Abuse, Neglect and Significant Incidents in State Oversight Agency Licensed and Operated Programs.” The sessions were offered in Saranac Lake and Niagara Falls and among those completing the two-day course were a total of 45 investigators charged with investigating incidents in facilities operated, licensed, or certified by state agencies the Justice Center oversees. The May the Justice Center trained Office of Investigations staff on programs licensed by the NYS Department of Health subject to Justice Center Investigative Oversight.

“Those responsible for investigating incidents of abuse and neglect of people with special needs face unique challenges, which makes having the latest training and information on such cases so important,” said Larry Murello, Deputy Director of the Law Enforcement Training Academy. “We can help investigators can better understand the often-unique conditions involving cases of people with special needs.”

You can view the Justice Center’s training schedule here: https://www.justicecenter.ny.gov/media/news/training-opportunities.

The Justice Center’s goal is to prevent mistreatment of people with special needs and to ensure all allegations of abuse or neglect are reported and fully investigated. The Justice Center investigates, reviews and makes findings when it receives reports of abuse and neglect by staff – including employees, volunteers, interns, consultants, or contractors – against individuals who receive services.  

The Justice Center’s primary purpose and responsibility is to protect the health, safety and welfare of people with special needs who receive services or supports from state operated, certified or licensed facilities and programs. The Justice Center oversees facilities or programs operated, licensed or certified by the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), Office of Mental Health (OMH), Department of Health (DOH), Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS), Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS), and the State Education Department (SED).

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