MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — There was a heated hearing on Long Island as Child Protective Services came under fire Wednesday night. Officials are now reviewing procedures after the death of 8-year-old Thomas Valva.
“You’re letting out criminals into our streets,” one woman yelled.
There was constant interruption throughout a meeting with Nassau County legislators, who gathered to be proactive in finding out the needs of Child Protective Services, rather than reactive, given what happened in neighboring Suffolk County in the case of Thomas Valva.
“We’re asking you to please follow the protocol of the meeting,” one official said.
The 8-year-old died under the care of his father, Michael Valva, an NYPD officer who now stands accused of murder and abuse.
Thomas died in January after being left in a cold garage, allegedly as punishment at his father’s Center Moriches home.
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His mother, Justyna Zubko-Valva, lives in Nassau County and attended the meeting, delivering her heart-wrenching testimony of trying to fight for her children in the face of what she calls corruption.
She says CPS in Suffolk County dropped the ball in Thomas’ case and has accused several family and divorce court judges of misconduct, CBS2’s Valerie Castro reports.
“All this connections, corruption, influence, caused Tommy to die,” Zubko-Valva said.
Nassau County CPS presented its current staffing numbers during the meeting. State recommendations are that each caseworker have an average of 12-15 cases, but in Nassau County, that number is sometimes much higher.
“Someone that has a caseload of 30 is a lot different than, you know, that’s almost double the amount of what somebody else might have,” Nassau County Legislator Rose Marie Walker said.
“With our caseload, there’s, without a doubt, some folks have larger caseloads than others,” Nassau County Department Of Social Services Commissioner Nancy Nunziata said.
But many say an overload of cases is just the beginning of a systemic problem.
“Just because somebody is a judge or a prosecutor or holds this powerful position in the government, it doesn’t mean that somebody is above the law because we have to protect our children who cannot speak for themselves,” Zubko-Valva said.
In this case, Thomas Valva still has a voice even though he’s no longer here.