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Caride Introduces Bill to Ensure Safety & Well-Being of Children When a Parent or Primary Caregiver is Arrested

Bill is similar to legislation introduced in New York following death of toddler left with abusive caregiver after his father was arrested on an unrelated charge

(TRENTON) – Assemblywoman Marlene Caride (D-Bergen/Passaic) has introduced legislation to require the notification of the state’s child protection and child welfare agency when a child’s primary caregiver is arrested. The bill is inspired by the tragic death of 4-year-old Myls Dobson who was tortured and killed by his father’s girlfriend, who was entrusted with his care after the father was arrested.

“This little boy suffered a horrible, prolonged death at the hands of the person who was supposed to care for him. Why his father chose his girlfriend instead of relatives to watch over this little boy is unknown, but we know the decision was a death sentence,” said Caride. “No child deserves this fate. This bill would help prevent another tragic death by alerting the appropriate agency when a child’s parent is arrested, to ensure the whereabouts of the child is known and that he or she is safe.”

Caride’s bill (A-2830) would require law enforcement agencies in the state to determine if a person placed under arrest is a parent, legal guardian, or caregiver of a child. If the person is a caregiver, the law enforcement agency would have to notify the Division of Child Protection and Permanency, within the Department of Children and Families, of the child’s location and the identity of the person entrusted with his or her care. If the child is not in the care of a parent or legal guardian who is not under arrest or in custody, the division would have to arrange for care of the child.

“Little Myls might still be alive had his father been more selective about who to leave him with. Involving the Division of Child Protection and Permanency, which investigates allegations of child abuse and neglect, ensures children who find themselves in a similar situation will have an advocate on their side who will hold the adults accountable and step in when necessary,” said Caride.

The bill has been referred to the Assembly Human Services Committee.