NYS Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs’ officials and staff members, as part of the agency’s ongoing efforts to keep the public informed about its activities and laws related to reporting and investigating allegations of abuse and neglect against people with special needs, conducted a number of presentations across New York State during the month of June.

The agency made four presentations whose audiences included families, service recipients and not-for- profit providers, with more than 500 people in attendance in total. The presentations were made on location and over the web in Niagara Falls, Poughkeepsie, Red Hook, and Geneva, N.Y.

“It’s our goal to solicit feedback from our stakeholders about our work with the aim of improving operations, and to provide an overview of the requirements as outlined in the Protection of People with Special Needs Act,” said Justice Center Chief of Staff and Director of Outreach and Education, Davin Robinson.

In June, the Justice Center joined together with Niagara Falls Hospital, Council of Family and Child Caring Agencies; and providers in the Hudson Valley associated with the New York State Office of People With Developmental Disabilities. The Justice Center also made a presentation at the Northwestern Direct Support Professionals conference in Geneva, N.Y.

The Justice Center and its statewide hotline and incident reporting system began operations on June 30, 2013. It is staffed 24-hours a day, seven days a week by trained professionals who receive reports of allegations of abuse and neglect of people with special needs. Once a report is received by its Vulnerable Persons’ Central Register (VPCR) Hotline, it is logged and assessed. Serious cases of abuse or neglect are assigned to the Justice Center’s investigation team or, when criminal in nature, to a local law enforcement agency for follow-up. Through the services provided by the Justice Center’s Individual and Family Support Unit – victims, their families, personal representatives and guardians receive guidance and information about the reporting and investigation process and support during criminal cases and court proceedings.

The Justice Center also maintains a statewide registry of all persons who have been found to be responsible for serious or repeated acts of abuse and neglect. Once placed on the registry, known as the “Staff Exclusion List” or SEL, they are prohibited by law from ever working again with people with disabilities or special needs.

The Justice Center oversees certain facilities or programs that are operated, licensed or certified by the Office of People With Developmental Disabilities, Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS), the Office of Mental Health (OMH), the Department of Health (DOH), the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS), and the State Education Department (SED).