What types of investigations do these protocols apply to?

The protocols apply to all investigations of abuse and neglect conducted by the Justice Center, State Oversight Agencies and the facilities and programs under the Justice Center’s jurisdiction. It is not necessary to follow these protocols during a criminal investigation, but they can be used as a guide when appropriate.


What information can be provided to family members of people receiving services who are victims of or witnesses to an allegation of abuse or neglect?

NYS law permits notification to “personal representatives” of people receiving services.  “Personal representative” is defined as a person authorized under state, tribal, military or other applicable law to act on behalf of a vulnerable person in making health care decisions. 

For programs that serve children under the jurisdiction of the State Education Department or the Office of Children and Family Services, the personal representative is defined in the law as the parent, guardian or other person legally responsible for the service recipient.  For other programs that serve children, the personal representative of the child would be the parent, guardian or other person authorized under law to make health care decisions.

The Office for People With Developmental Disabilities uses a broader definition of personal representative.  For service recipients over the age of 18, a personal representative shall mean a legal guardian, an actively involved spouse, an actively involved parent, an actively involved adult child, an actively involved adult family member, and the Consumer Advisory Board for Willowbrook Class Members who are fully represented.

A personal representative can be notified that the person receiving services may be interviewed as part of the investigation into the allegation of abuse and neglect.  A personal representative will not be notified if:

  • the person receiving services objects to notification; or
  • such notification would compromise the investigation; or
  • it would violate relevant confidentiality laws; or
  • it is contrary to court order or otherwise contrary to the best interests of the potential witness.

At the end of the investigation,  a personal representative of  a victim is entitled to the results of the investigation.  NYS Law does not allow a personal representative of a witness to receive details regarding the incident or the results of the investigation.


What information is requested from a personal representative of a victim or witness?

When the service provider makes the initial notification that a person receiving services will be interviewed as part of an investigation into an allegation of abuse or neglect, the service provider will ask the personal representative if he or she has information regarding the most effective ways to communicate and support the interview process.


Can a personal representative refuse to allow a person receiving services to be interviewed as a victim or witness?



Can a personal representative of a witness find out the results of an investigation?

Witnesses and their personal representatives are not entitled to the results of the investigation. Investigation results are only shared with the victim, the victim’s personal representative, the subject of the investigation and the executive director of the agency.


What can a personal representative do during an interview of the service recipient?

Personal representatives may be permitted to accompany a service recipient who is an alleged victim or potential witness during an interview if confidential information will not be disclosed during the interview.  Personal representatives may not answer questions directed toward the person receiving services or disrupt the interview in anyway.


How is a personal representative notified of the date and time of the interview?

The service provider or the individual investigating the incident will notify personal representatives when the interview will occur. Notification can be made orally or in writing.  Please note the exceptions to notification mentioned in the first question.


Does a personal representative receive notification about allegations that are classified as significant incidents?



Who should a personal representative contact for additional questions?

Please contact the Individual and Family Support Unit Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.  To contact an advocate call: 1-800-624-4143 and request Individual and Family Support. Relay users, please dial 7-1-1 and give the operator 1-800-624-4143. Translation services are also available.  Email: [email protected].


Who should a provider contact for additional questions?

Region 1

Edwin O'Leary at 518 549-0201

Region 2

Christine Parkhurst at 315-580-3863

Region 3

Mark Case at 518- 925-3390

Region 4

Salvatore Salerno at 516-490-1026


Does a service recipient have the right to object to the notification of a personal representative?

Yes.  Objections to notification of a personal representative should be reviewed on an individual basis consistent with the existing standards a service provider uses to determine the ability of a service recipient to consent to services, programs and treatment.


Do children under 18 have the right to object to notification of a personal representative?

No.  However, a youth who is legally emancipated should be treated as an adult.


What happens if there is no personal representative for a service recipient?

If there is no personal representative, then no additional notifications are required.


When do these protocols take effect?

These protocols take effect on July 1, 2015.  The protocols must be followed for all incidents that occur on or after July 1, 2015. 


Does a provider have to follow the notification requirements in these protocols prior to undertaking a preliminary investigation to ensure service recipient safety?

No.  If steps need to be taken immediately following an incident to secure the safety of service recipients the protocols do not need to be followed.  Once a formal investigation is undertaken these protocols should be followed.


Who is responsible for providing notification to a personal representative?

The service provider is responsible for providing notification to a personal representative.  The Office of Children and Family Services and the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities have issued separate guidelines on how to make these notifications.