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New York State Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs - IFSU
The Justice Center was created in legislation known as the “Protection of People with Special Needs Act” to establish the strongest standards and practices in the nation for protecting people with special needs. It serves both as a law enforcement agency and as an advocate for people with special needs. The Justice Center’s responsibilities include: • Advocating on behalf of people with special needs and overseeing the quality of care they receive; • Ensuring that all allegations of abuse and neglect are fully investigated. The Justice Center has legal authority to investigate incidents involving people with special needs. The Justice Center’s Special Prosecutor/Inspector General works with county district attorneys to prosecute cases that are criminal in nature. Operating a 24/7 Hotline which receives reports of allegations of abuse, neglect and significant incidents. Reports are made by service providers and others who are “mandated reporters” as well as by any individual who witnesses or suspects the abuse or neglect of a person with special needs; • Maintaining a comprehensive statewide database that tracks cases until they are resolved and allows the Justice Center to monitor trends and develop abuse prevention initiatives; • Maintaining a “Staff Exclusion List” of individuals found responsible for the serious abuse or neglect of a person with special needs. Anyone entered into this statewide register is prohibited from ever working again with people with special needs in New York. • Operating an Information and Referral Line to respond to general disability-related inquiries; • Continuing existing advocacy programs including the Developmental Center Ombudsman Program, Surrogate Decision-Making, Technology Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities (TRAID) and Adult Homes Advocacy; • Monitoring the quality of mental health care in New York State correctional facilities; and • Promoting the inclusion of people with special needs in all aspects of community life. Additionally, the Individual and Family Support Unit is a resource for victims of abuse or neglect, their families, personal representatives and guardians. IFSU advocates provide assistance in a variety of areas, including: • guidance and information about the reporting and investigative process • support during criminal cases and proceedings • victim interview accompaniment • case status updates