On November 22, 1995, a six-year-old child was murdered by her mother. This child, Elisa Izquierdo, and her family had been through the City's myriad child protective, medical, mental health, educational, and legal services - but with no lasting effect. Following this tragic death, Mayor Giuliani called for a review of the Child Welfare Administration, the City's child welfare agency at the time, and asked for an explanation of how this death could have occurred. Soon after, the Mayor created ACS, the first free-standing agency in the City's history devoted only to child welfare services and reporting directly to him.
From Elisa's death came another major change in New York child welfare: Elisa's Law (New York Social Services Law Section 422-a) was enacted February 12, 1996. The Law enhances accountability and public understanding of child protective services by lifting the veil of confidentiality which previously precluded State and local officials from disclosing information about child welfare cases. Today, Elisa's Law acts as an effective tool for reform by holding the agency and the child welfare system publicly accountable for its work.
As a result of this legislation, laws pertaining to the disclosure of information and expungement of unfounded reports of child abuse and neglect were modified. If certain criteria are met, case information can be made public at the discretion of the local commissioner.