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Court Decides if ACS Made Reasonable Efforts to Reunite Family


In Re L.

2018 NY Slip Op. 06966

October 18, 2018


The plaintiff, in this case, asks whether NY Administration for Child Services made reasonable efforts for family reunifications, pursuant to Family Court Act 1089 when they failed to provide reasonable accommodations required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Under this act, government agencies are required to make “reasonable accommodations.” However here the plaintiff didn’t specify any particular services required that aren’t already required under law.

The ADA was ordered to provide the plaintiff these services by the Family Court, and it appears that she received these services. The ADA didn’t provide these services promptly, however. The trial court felt that they tailored their efforts to meet the plaintiff’s needs (Matter of Lacee 153 AD 3d 1151 [1st Dept. 2017]. The court concluded that the ADA made a reasonable effort.

The Family Court Act was created to establish procedures to protect children from mistreatment and provide due process (Family Court Act 1011).

The plaintiff is intellectually disabled. Before Lacee’s birth, the Family Court had found neglect regarding another child in her care and filed a petition alleging neglect of Lacee because the plaintiff hadn’t completed a mental health and drug treatment program.

The plaintiff requested two modifications toward reuniting her with her child, a referral for psychological and cognitive testing and a referral for homemaking services. She didn’t receive these services.

Later ACS issued a permanent report stating that the plaintiff had not complied with the plan. In November, the plaintiff moved for a determination that ACS had not made an effort to reunite the plaintiff and child. ACS provided some court-ordered services. They contend ACS provided some court-ordered services but were not able to provide all the services requested because the plaintiff didn’t perform the tasks necessary to receive those services.

By April, the Family Court issued an order stating that the plaintiff had received requested accommodations. The court said that ACS must comply with the ADA and they are required to use “reasonable efforts.” ACS requires that sec. 1089’s “reasonable effort” and ADA’s “reasonable accommodation” are in harmony with each other.

In this case, the record supports the Appellate Court’s affirmation of the Family Court order that ACS made a reasonable effort to provide services to the plaintiff. While the services weren’t immediately provided, and there was a lack of follow through and miscommunications, they were indeed provided.

If you have a family law issue, it is important to speak with a qualified lawyer to ensure that your rights are protected. Contact Stephen Bilkis and Associates for guidance and a free consultation. They have offices throughout New York, including locations in Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Suffolk County, Nassau County, and Westchester County. Call them today at 1-800-NYNYLAW.

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