Officials call for change to improve CPS following grand jury report

The 75-page grand jury report highlighted the systematic failures of the current CPS system and recommends local and statewide changes.

Cecilia Dowd

Apr 4, 2024, 3:53 PM

Updated 53 days ago


Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney said that anyone objectively looking at the facts “will have no doubt that had CPS done its job, Thomas Valva would still be alive today.”
No criminal charges against anyone at CPS were recommended in the report, but there were hurdles in the investigation.
According to the report, “the current confidentiality laws and rules regarding unfounded cases have hampered this Grand Jury’s investigation of CPS…”
The report continued to say: “Those laws and rules, intended to protect the privacy rights of individuals, have had the unintended consequence of shielding an entire agency, its leadership, and its hundreds of employees, from criminal investigation and prosecution.”
Tierney said that “shockingly” 10 out of 11 reports of maltreatment and child abuse filed by teachers and staff members of East Moriches Elementary school, prior to Thomas’s death, were classified by Suffolk County CPS as unfounded.
Because they were deemed unfounded, Tierney said that means they basically “disappeared.”
He called for change and said “the law simply cannot allow these reports to remain hidden especially where children have been abused, where a child has died…”
He said there must be accountability.
“Were CPS workers overloaded, understaffed?” Tierney asked. “We do not know what went wrong here because those files were unfounded and unmigrated.”
Suffolk County Executive Ed Romaine released the following statement:
“The death of Thomas Valva is an enduring stain on Suffolk County, and the grand jury report unveiled today by District Attorney Tierney underscores the failure of the prior administration’s policies and the leadership of Suffolk CPS to take real action that could have saved a child’s life and protected an untold number of others.
We did not need a grand jury report to know that Suffolk County failed Thomas Valva. Thomas deserved better, and we will do all we can to ensure we never see another case like this in Suffolk County again.
This report is not an indictment of the vast majority of men and women at CPS who everyday must deal with some of the most difficult cases one can imagine. The failed performance of a few who were trusted to protect Thomas Valva – and many other children – does not represent the true mission and spirit of CPS.
I have already begun making significant changes in the department and will be immediately bringing in new leadership.
I want to thank the grand jury for its work on this report. We will use their recommendations as a guide for much-needed reform to implement changes.”

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