Weekly Round-up November 24th, 2014

Manhattan DA’s Pledge to End Rape-Kit Testing Backlogs:

  • Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. has pledged to use $35 million in funds received as the result of civil forfeitures to help end the backlog in rape-kits around the country. The money comes from the settlement with BNP Paribas for violating financial sanctions.
  • The funding is meant to help cities with extensive backlogs such as Memphis and Las Vegas. Between these two cities the backlog in testing rape kits is estimated between 15,000 and 16,000. Rape kits contain the evidence including photographs, blood samples, clothing, and bodily fluids collected by health care officials following a sexual assault.
  • The District Attorney’s Office has teamed up with the Joyful Heart Foundation. The Foundation’s president is Mariska Hartigay, the star of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. The funding will first go to any backlog in New York. Then, the Joyful Heart Foundation will provide technical assistance and advise the District Attorney’s Office on the most efficient ways of distributing the funds.
  • Since Federal and State officials are generally not required to keep track of rape-kit backlogs, there is no official number of how many kits have gone untested. It is estimated that there are about 100,000 backlogged kits.


Parent’s Dispute In Family Court Over Donating Two Year Old Daughter’s Organs Comes To An End:

  • On Monday, November 17, 2014, a Brooklyn Family Court judge ruled that the medical professionals at Brookdale Hospital would have to keep two year old Thaiya Spruill-Smith on life support for at least another day.
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Weekly Round-up November 10th, 2014

Special Education Class Action Lawsuit:


  • On Wednesday, a class action lawsuit was filed against the NYC Department of Education claiming that the Department has failed to comply with state and federal laws that require special education students to receive transitional and vocational services and training to help them succeed after high school.
  • Transitional services are intended to help improve the academic and practical skills of students with disabilities to allow them to transition from secondary school to higher education, employment, or independent living.
  • One of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit is a 16-year-old high school student in Brooklyn. He claims that he did not receive the proper vocational assessments and training to prepare him for life after high school graduation. His parents received the Individualized Education Program (IEP) and saw that there was no course of action for their son for after graduation.
  • The Department of Education is working with the families of the lawsuit to make sure that the students get all of the tools and resources they need. In a statement, the Department of Education said that it is “committed to providing the services our students need to thrive in and out of the classroom.”
  • To read the complaint, click here. To see New York State Education Department transition requirements and guidelines, click here.


Domestic Violence On the Rise in NYCHA Buildings:


  • Last month the City Council’s Public Housing Committee released a report stating that the number of domestic violence incidents in the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) developments have doubled since 2009.
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Weekly Round-up November 3rd, 2014

Referral Guide For Recently Arrived Immigrant Children and Their Families:

  • On Friday, October 31, 2014, the de Blasio administration published a new resource and referral guide that is intended to link recently arrived immigrant children and their families to New York City government and non-profit services.
  • The guide is separated into six main categories: Child and Family Welfare; Donations and Volunteering; Education; Health Services; Legal Services; and Request a Birth Certificate.
  • Each of these sections are further broken down into sub categories which can help parents and children more easily access different services, such as: mental health clinics, school enrollment, food pantries, homelessness prevention, and legal advice.
  • This referral guide was created in response to the growing number of children fleeing violence in Central America who are arriving in New York.
  • Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Nisha Agarwal stated, “This guide represents the City’s firm and ongoing commitment to connecting recently arrived immigrant children and their families to the services that are available to them, regardless of immigration status.”
  • The guide was published in English and Spanish, and can be accessed here.
  • For more about this, click here.


Hurricane Sandy Anniversary/Mental Health and Legal Services:

  • It has been two years since Hurricane Sandy hit New York; however, many New Yorkers are still feeling the effects. It is estimated that 700,000 people are still experiencing mental health issues as a result of Hurricane Sandy.
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From Poverty to Opportunity Symposium: Promoting Access to Health Care in Hard to Reach Communities

by Sara Nassof

From Poverty to Opportunity Symposium Series Part 4Panelists:

Moderator: Marjorie Cadogan, Executive Deputy Commissioner, New York City Human Resource Administration’s Office of Citywide Health Insurance Access


In this session the panelists, Health Care Navigators, discussed the organizations that they represent and their mission to raise awareness about health care. A health care navigator is a person or organization that is trained to assist persons in obtaining and learning about health care options available to them in the Marketplace. All Health Care Navigators who presented on the panel represent organizations that specialize in assisting New Yorkers in enrolling in medical health plans. Moreover, all of the organizations specialize in reaching hard-to-reach populations.

In New York, more than nine million people are currently enrolled in either Medicaid or a private insurance program. Approximately 500,000 of these participants in health insurance are residents of New York City. The panelists discussed the history of health insurance in New York City and how the role of Health Care Navigators was developed. Today, Health Care Navigators help residents of New York City take advantage of available programs and enroll in health insurance.

The panelists all agreed that the best way to get people involved in the discussion of health insurance starts with identifying the needs of the family or individuals, and then following through with these individuals and families to target their needs as they may change with the passage of time.… <Read More>

Weekly Round-up October 27th, 2014

Immigration Status Not “Fatal” in Name Change Application in NYC:

  • In Matter of Arrieta Salas, petitioner appealed the order of the Civil Court of the City of New York, New York County, because the decision denied her application for a name change.
  • Transgendered petitioner wished to change her name from Paulo Cesar Arrieta Salas to Raquel Ramirez in order to accurately reflect her female gender identity.
  • On appeal, the court granted the petitioner’s application for a name change. Under section 61 of the Civil Rights Law, the petitioner for a name change must specify the grounds for the application, and the petitioner must disclose pertinent background information. Here, the petitioner properly submitted all of the required information including her address,  and the record indicated that there was no evidence of fraud, misrepresentation, or interference with the rights of others.
  • Additionally, a petitioner who submits a name change application does not have to provide proof of their immigration status. The appellate court stated that Civil Rights Law § 61 requires that a name change applicant provide their “residence.” The plain meaning of the statute does not require anything further. The lower court interpreted residence as legal residence. Thus, the lower court denied petitioner’s application, because she could not provide the court with proof of citizenship or lawful immigration status.
  • The appellate court articulated the standard for petitioner’s residence as follows: “That the Costa Rican born petitioner was unable to provide the court with proof of citizenship or lawful immigration status was not fatal to the otherwise meritorious name change application.
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