‘Dysfunctional and unacceptable:’ NYS Senate committee chairs release preliminary report into family court

The preliminary report, released by the heads of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Committee on Children and Families, calls the system “dysfunctional, unacceptable and requiring deep re-examination.”

Blaise Gomez

Apr 10, 2024, 10:00 PM

Updated 49 days ago

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The chairs of two New York state Senate committees have issued scathing remarks in a newly released Senate report on the need for family court reform.
The preliminary report, released by the heads of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Committee on Children and Families, calls the system “dysfunctional, unacceptable and requiring deep re-examination.”
The findings follow days of emotional testimony last year after activists’ calls for change. Sen. James Skoufis is on the Judiciary Commission and sat on a panel of lawmakers overseeing the hearings.
“The child or children’s well-being can’t be just on a list of the top five priorities. They have to be literally at the very top of the list. Right now, in a lot of these courtrooms, it simply is not that case,” says Skoufis.
Long Island mom Jaqueline Franchetti lost her daughter nearly eight years ago when her ex killed their daughter, Kyra, and then himself on a court-ordered visit.
“We need transparency. We need accountability, and we need it now,” Franchetti says.
The activist is pushing for change under a law in Kyra’s name, co-sponsored by Skoufis, and held a news conference Wednesday alongside advocates – including children – for Child Abuse Prevention Month.
“I have been denied my childhood because of the New York Family Court system,” said 12-year-old Logan Haase. “For years, I’ve been a victim of [this] horrible system. There is no one to protect us. No one cares about our life or safety.”
The preliminary report found that New York Family Court cases involve mostly minority litigants, lack resources and that judges need training. It indicates that more funding is needed, along with policy and legislation changes, and court oversight.
Franchetti says those measures may have kept her daughter, and other children killed during family court or child protective proceedings, safe. Their lives were symbolized with blue pinwheels at her news conference on Wednesday.
“Today, at the park we had 750 pinwheels blowing in the wind,” says Franchetti. “That noise is something you can’t forget, and another noise I can’t forget is the sound of my daughter Kyra, her voice that has been silenced."
News 12 reached out to the New York State Unified Court System for comment but hasn’t heard back.
“There’s no going back in a time machine and correcting the system for many of the folks who testified,” says Skoufis. “But we can certainly do a lot better to make sure we have a system in place for the future.”


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