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Editorial Kieran’s Law signed

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Kieran Dunne was just 10 months old when he died from injuries suffered a month earlier at the hands of his caregiver, Ann Franklin, in March 1993. His parents, Peggy and Dave Dunne of Rye, N.Y., had attempted to do a criminal background check on Franklin, who had responded to their ad in the Irish Echo. They found, however, that neither local nor state police, nor the FBI, could help them. So they hired Franklin with no knowledge that she was wanted on petty theft charges.

There is no pain greater than that felt by parents who lose a child. For the Dunnes, the fact that they had attempted to check their nanny’s background, a move that even the most diligent parents often fail to do in even the most cursory way, makes that hurt unbearable. But they have taken their pain – and their anger and frustration – and used if for the public good. On Monday, their more than four-year-long effort to remove the obstacles that very likely cost them their young son at last bore fruit when Gov. Pataki signed Kieran’s Law in a ceremony in White Plains.

Kieran’s Law authorizes parents in New York, upon consent of the prospective nanny, to submit the nanny’s fingerprints to the state Division of Criminal Justice Services. The DCJS will then send a copy of the fingerprints to the FBI for a criminal background search.

The bill also directs the Office of Children and Family Services to develop informational literature for the public, advising parents of their rights and of the procedures to obtain this information, as well as how to obtain driving and educational credit records.

In addition, it directs the OCFS to study the feasibility of establishing a voluntary information registry for caregivers.

There are those, of course, who will argue against Kieran’s Law on privacy grounds, claiming that it is coercive, that it goes too far, just as others continue to protest New Jersey’s Megan’s Law, which directs the state to inform neighbors of the presence of convicted child sex offenders. Such concerns are not to be taken lightly. But clearly, the well-being of children must outweigh them. As the governor said, Kieran’s Law will pull back the “veil of secrecy” and give parents the information “they deserve” to help safeguard their children.

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Indeed, it’s hard enough raising children today. Bad influences are everywhere. Parents are pressed for time. The one place a child should never feel at risk is in his home. Thanks to the Dunnes, guaranteeing that safety is a step closer in New York today.

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