Nassau County hosts hearing in response to death of Suffolk County 8-year-old boy

Justyna Zubko-Valva bared her soul at a hearing in Nassau County on Wednesday, detailing how the death of her 8-year-old son Thomas Valva was preventable. 

Addressing Nassau County Legislators and county Child Protective Service workers, she read aloud from three police reports describing the abuse Thomas endured. 

Thomas died of hypothermia, reportedly after being forced to sleep in his father’s unheated garage. His father, Michael, is a NYPD police officer and has been charged with Thomas’ death. 

Although Thomas died in Suffolk County, Nassau County held the hearing with the CPS commissioner to ensure a similar situation did not happen there.

Legislators are looking to determine how understaffed CPS is in Nassau County and what kind of support they need to adequately meet the needs of abused kids county-wide. 

Currently, the biggest issue facing the agency is overloaded caseworkers, with some workers facing a workload of 30 cases when the state recommends 12 to 15.

The county is on track to hire more caseworkers, but it will take several months to get them up to speed. There is also the inherent inadequacies in the reporting and investigative process, all which could see cases fall through the cracks. 

Legislators will meet in the next few weeks will determine the next steps the county will take. Suffolk County held a similar hearing on February 3, and there is also an internal investigation to figure out how Thomas Valva was failed. 


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