Updated 04/05/2011 04:37 PM
State Lawmakers Propose Stricter Guidelines For ACS Workers
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As two city child welfare workers face charges in the death of a Brooklyn girl, legislators in Albany are pushing for tougher accountability laws in child protection cases.
Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Brooklyn State Senator Martin Golden said four-year-old Marchella Pierce could have been saved if workers with the city's Administration for Children's Services had less opportunity to falsify records.
Pierce weighed only 18 pounds when she died last September and investigators say she was found bruised and severely malnourished.
While the girl's mother and grandmother were charged in connection with Marchella's death, so were two ACS workers who, prosecutors say, ignored warning signs and later created false log entries in the case.
Golden plans to introduce a bill this week that would require caseworkers to take a photograph of children under protective services with a cellphone. The photo would include a time stamp and location each time a visit is paid to a child.
"There’s a responsibility now upon that caseworker to make sure if something’s wrong in that house, to report it, to actually do their job, and to protect them at the same time," said Golden. "So I think it’s something that this state will embrace, and proudly embrace it. It’s not about saving money, it’s about saving lives."
Golden is working with the assembly to craft the bill, which should be complete by the end of the week.
He says the bill would include criminal sanctions.
In response, the agency released a statement, saying, "We look forward to reviewing Senator Golden’s proposal. ACS is very interested in making better use of cell phone cameras and mobile devices to better support our workers and their efforts to protect children."