The first bill championed by lifelong Manhasset resident Jacqueline Franchetti was signed into law by Gov. Kathy Hochul Friday.
The bill is the first of eight that Franchetti has pushed for to reach this point. It requires court-ordered forensic evaluations and visitations be done by a licensed psychologist, social worker or psychiatrist who completed training from the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, among other things.
“Our judicial system just got one step closer in protecting children from abusive parents. This is the first of many bills that we need to become law,” Franchetti said in a statement. “This law took a tremendous amount of effort – personal time and effort spent. This is why showing up in Albany and sending emails mean so much.”
Before the bill was signed, child custody evaluators previously had no training on family violence, child abuse and trauma.
The law first appeared on Hochul’s desk on Dec. 12 after unanimously passing the state Senate in June. The bill is sponsored by state Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, who was chairman of the Judiciary Committee at the time Franchetti first told him about her tragedy.
On July 27, 2016, 2-year-old Kyra’s father shot her twice in the back while she was sleeping at his Fairfax, Va., home on an unsupervised, court-sanctioned visit. He then set the house on fire and shot himself to death.
After Kyra was killed, Franchetti founded Kyra’s Champions and the Kyra Franchetti Foundation, whose mission is to protect children in custody cases from being ordered by a court into the home of an abusive parent.
Franchetti’s advocacy has led to multiple bills, including Kyra’s Law, which would makechild safety the top priority in Family Court, increases judicial training on family violence and eliminates the use of forensic evaluators.
The bill’s signing comes one year after Hochul released a report from the Blue-Ribbon Commission on Forensic Custody Evaluations, which was created by then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2021, of which Franchett was one of 20 members.
The group was focused on providing recommendations to the governor about updates to the evaluations for New York courts after negative experiences were reported by parents, attorneys and court officials.
Franchetti previously told Blank Slate Media about several disturbing cases that included a forensic evaluator in Schenectady requiring a child who disclosed sexual abuse to sit on her father’s lap during her interview.
She said on Long Island an evaluator interviewed a young boy on the bed where he was raped and in her daughter Kyra’s case, the evaluator dismissed documented evidence and eyewitness accounts of abuse and advocated for the father who ultimately murdered her to have joint custody.
More information about Kyra’s Champions can be found at www.kyraschampions.org.