Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence


Summary of New York State Domestic Violence and Related Laws by Subject (beginning from 1995)

Subject Categories

Residential Domestic Violence Programs/New State Requirements – A.3006-C/S.2006-C

A new category of providers has been added to the mandated reporter list:  "publicly-funded emergency shelter for families with children," defined as “any facility with overnight sleeping accommodations and that is used to house recipients of temporary housing assistance and which houses or may house children and families with children.”  This category will include residential domestic violence programs.

In addition, any “publicly-funded emergency shelter for families with children” must obtain fingerprints and request a criminal history check from the Division of Criminal Justice Services for any prospective employee, consultant, assistant or volunteer who will have “regular and substantial contact” with children.  The new law has multiple provisions for implementation, including consent, right to withdraw, confidentiality, storage of records, etc.

OCFS, OTDA and DCJS must promulgate rules and regulations to implement.

Signed: Chapter 55 – Budget Bill: Part Q
Effective: April 20, 2017
Amends: Social Services Law §§412 new subdivision 9, 413(1)(a), 424-a(3), new 460(h)

Service Animals in Shelter/Amendment – A.9167 Rosenthal / S.6386-A Carlucci

Amends a law passed in 2015 that would allow domestic violence victims entering a residential domestic violence program to be accompanied by a service animal or therapy dog (as defined in NYS Agriculture and Markets Law). This amendment clarifies that a residential program must provide such accommodation so long as it does not create an undue burden. In such circumstances, the shelter must make reasonable efforts to facilitate placement of the animal or make referral to off-site care facilities. The amendment also extended the effective date of the law to give residential domestic violence programs additional time to prepare.

Signed: March 11, 2016 Chapter 7
Effective: December 28, 2016
Amends: Social Services Law §459-b

Service Animals in Shelter – A.6626 Rosenthal / S.5372 Carlucci

Establishes the right of a domestic violence victim entering a residential domestic violence program to be accompanied by a service animal or therapy dog, as defined in NYS Agriculture and Markets Law. This bill was signed into law, based on an agreement between the Governor and Legislature, to amend the law to allow for reasonable accommodations addressing the health and safety needs of adults and children already residing in shelter, such as individuals who may have allergies or a fear of animals. (see “Legislative Summaries by Year 2016” for the amendment)

Signed: December 28, 2015 Chapter 584
Effective: December 28, 2015
Amends: Social Services Law §459-b

Extended Length of Shelter Stay (A.2651-B Jacobs/S.6308-A Ball)

Codifies in Social Services Law the ninety day limit on shelter stays that has been in regulation since 1987. Allows local districts to provide two forty-five day extensions beyond the ninety days for shelter residents who continue to be in need of emergency services and temporary shelter.

Signed: 2012 Chapter 459

Effective: April 1, 2013

Amends: Social Services Law §459-b

Senior Center-Based Domestic Violence Prevention (A.6736 Dinowitz/S.4235 Valesky)

Directs the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence to develop and promote senior center-based domestic violence prevention programs.

Signed: 2011 Chapter 339

Effective: August 3, 2011

Amends: Executive Law §575(3)

Social Services Definition of Victim (A.627 Weinstein/S.4222 Saland)

Amends the Social Services definition of “victim of domestic violence” to include the new category of “intimate partner,” which was established in the Criminal Procedure Law and the Family Court Act in 2008 (Chapter 326). The Social Services Law definition has always applied to a victim of any violation of the Penal Law, but has listed examples of possible offenses. A.627/S.4222 adds sexual misconduct, forcible touching, sexual abuse, stalking, criminal mischief, strangulation and criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation as additional examples.

Signed: 2011 Chapter 11

Effective: April 13, 2011

Amends: Social Services Law §459-a (1) and (2)

Prohibiting Requirement of Victim/Abuser Contact For Services (A.3843-A Rosenthal/S.5036 Hassell-Thompson)

Prohibits the state or any local government from requiring a victim to contact an abuser in order to meet eligibility for services or benefits. If a victim provides informed consent, or if information is needed to comply with federal law, regulation or mandate, the governmental entity must provide an intermediary to make contact on behalf of the victim, in a manner that will protect the privacy, confidentiality and current location of the victim.

Signed: 2009 Chapter 428

Effective: December 15, 2009

Amends: Social Services Law §459-g

Undocumented Alien Shelter Reimbursement (A.10228 Paulin/S.7185 Saland)

Makes undocumented immigrant victims of domestic violence eligible for domestic violence services in New York State. This change will allow domestic violence service providers to be reimbursed for residential services provided to these victims.

Signed: 2008 Chapter 584

Effective: September 25, 2008

Amends: Social Services Law §398-e

Shelter Venue (A.5513 Lopez/S.6305 Robach)

Includes alternative shelter options, such as, facilities for homeless individuals and families, emergency hotel or motel arrangements, etc., to be used as an allowable venue for family offense proceedings. Including these alternatives will ultimately provide Family Court access to a greater number of families.

Signed: 2004 Chapter 391

Effective: August 17, 2004

Amends: Family Court Act §818

Welfare Reform Act of 1997/Family Violence Option (A.8678/S.5788 )

The Welfare Reform Act of 1997includes new requirements and deadlines for applicants and current recipients. The domestic violence language, consistent with the Family Violence Option created by the Federal Wellstone-Murray amendment, provides protection for victims through the following provisions:

  • universal notification of procedures and services available to domestic violence victims
  • universal screening by local DSS to determine if an applicant/recipient is a victim of domestic violence
  • disclosure is voluntary and confidential
  • upon disclosure, victim is referred to a trained local DSS domestic violence liaison who will:
    • assess the victim's claim of domestic violence -- in the absence of sufficient or corroborating evidence, assessment will be based on the victim's sworn statement alleging abuse
    • refer the victim to services, on a voluntary basis
    • assess the need for waivers of program and/or employment requirements, based on the extent to which domestic violence is a barrier to compliance by making it more difficult to escape the violence or by placing the victim or children at further risk of domestic violence
  • exemptions from the sixty month limit on receipt of benefits will be available to individuals with an independently verified physical or mental impairment resulting from domestic violence or to a care giver for a dependent child who is disabled as a result of domestic violence
  • a specific confidentiality provision is included, which allows information to be released only to other governmental agencies, unless required to be disclosed by law or authorized in writing by the victim

DSS (now the Office of Children and Family Services) is required, after consultation with OPDV and statewide domestic violence advocacy groups, to develop regulations for the implementation of these provisions by local social services districts.

Signed: 1997 Chapter 436

Effective: Signed August 20, 1997

Amends: Part B/Welfare Reform Act adds/amends multiple sections of Social Services Law

Family Violence Option (§36 of the Welfare Reform Act) is created in Social Services Law §349-a