The First Department, reversing Family Court, determined the amendment to Social Services Law 458-b allowing monthly subsidies for children cared for by guardians to be extended to age 21 (from 18) should be applied retroactively. The matter was deemed appealable as of right:
… [T]he order is appealable as of right, because it is an order of disposition that terminates the children’s guardianship placement once the children reach the age of 18 and terminates the proceeding itself … . In any event, this Court can deem a notice of appeal from the denial of the motion a request for permission to appeal and we would grant that request … . …
A review of the legislative history supports the conclusion that the amended statute is remedial in nature. … [W]e can discern from the legislative history that the intent was to remove the disparity created between foster/adoptive parents and guardians since foster/adoptive parents are able to obtain subsidies notwithstanding the age of the child at the time of fostering or adoption.
The mere fact that the amended statute is remedial in nature is not determinative as to whether it should be applied retroactively … . … [A] remedial amendment will only be applied retroactively if it does not impair vested rights … .
… [T]he amendment does not create a new entitlement; rather it expands “existing benefits to a class of persons arbitrarily denied those benefits by the original legislation” … . There is no dispute that had the children been adopted by the grandmother and remained with her under the auspices of foster care, or had the grandmother proceeded with guardianship after they turned 16, they would have been entitled to subsidies until the children turned 21. Matter of Jaquan L. (Pearl L.), 2020 NY Slip Op 00213, First Dept 1-9-20