The Second Department determined Family Court erred when it held that a finding of neglect of one child (Akasha) by consent could not be used to demonstrate the neglect of another child (William, Jr.). The court went on to explain the criteria for a derivative neglect finding (not all of which is quoted here):
The entry of a finding of neglect of one child may not be made without a factual basis, even upon consent … . Thus, entry of a finding of neglect as to a child clearly constitutes proof that that child was neglected, even if the order was entered upon consent … . Accordingly, such a fact-finding order is admissible with respect to the issue of whether the parent derivatively neglected another child (see Family Ct Act § 1046[a];[i]…). Consequently, the Family Court erred in holding that the neglect finding as to Akasha was not admissible evidence in the neglect proceeding as to William, Jr. The neglect finding as to Akasha was proof that the mother neglected Akasha and was, thus, admissible evidence in the proceeding regarding William, Jr., even though the finding as to Akasha was entered on the mother’s consent.
Further, while the proof of the neglect as to Akasha was admissible with respect to this proceeding alleging derivative neglect of William, Jr., “there is no per se rule that a finding of neglect of one sibling requires a finding of derivative neglect with respect to the other siblings”… . Rather, “the focus of the inquiry to determine whether derivative neglect is present is whether the evidence of abuse or neglect of one child indicates a fundamental defect in the parent’s understanding of the duties of parenthood. * * * Matter of William N, 2014 NY Slip Op 04012, 2nd Dept 6-4-14