Union responds to criticism of CPS following death of 8-year-old Center Moriches boy

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The union representing the workers of Suffolk's Child Protective Services is responding to criticism from the community.

Community members say the CPS should have done more to protect Thomas Valva, the 8-year-old Center Moriches boy who police say died after his father and his fiancée forced him to sleep in a freezing garage.

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Suffolk Social Services: CPS was notified of alleged abuse of slain 8-year-old boy 
DA: Father, fiancée watched 8-year-old boy die in freezing garage in Center Moriches 

Suffolk's Association of Municipal Employees President Daniel Levler told News 12 he can't speak specifically about the Valva case because it's an ongoing investigation. However, Levler says 12 CPS workers did everything they were able to in this case.

“There exist limits in the system to what a caseworker can and cannot do,” says Levler. “And although you and I and the rest of the world has outrage over what happened here, the way the system is designed, it allows caseworkers to do some things and not other things. So, they did entirely what they were required to do, professionally and to the full extent.” 

Levler, although defending the workers, says the system as a whole failed Valva and that changes must be made.  

“I think we need to look at the system as a whole, what limitations are placed on caseworkers, what authorities they are given under the law and look for ways to expand their authority. Look at all the policy and procedures, and what failings there are in the judicial system,” says Levler. 

Suffolk issued a response plan earlier this week. That plan includes the county's Department of Social Services conducting an internal review of its own policies, a review by the state Office of Children and Family Services, and the creation of a legislative task force.

The state's Office of Children and Family Services told News 12 that it's premature to draw conclusions and, if OCFS has state law and regulation recommendations, they will be issued when their investigation is complete. 

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