NEW YORK (PIX11) — A new law signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul was inspired by a public housing mom’s personal pain and courage.

It’s called Dakota’s Law, and it requires lead screenings at every health care visit or annually for children until the age of 6 in the state of New York.  

Tiesha Jones made headlines after the Bronx mom sued the New York City Housing Authority over elevated levels of lead found in her daughter Dakota’s blood. She was eventually awarded $57 million.  

PIX11 news covered Jones’ story. She wasn’t alone. Other families struggled with the effects of lead exposure in children, especially in NYCHA. Lead exposure can cause brain damage and delay mental development. 

Jones says it was always her mission to help others with her story. She teamed up with Sen. Gustavo Rivera to write Dakota’s Law. Gov. Hochul signed it into law last week. 

Under the new law, health care practitioners will have to provide parents or guardians of children with guidance on lead poisoning prevention. And it requires pre-kindergarten and kindergarten institutions to check if their students have been screened for lead exposure and provide them with lead poisoning information. 

Jones says her daughter Dakota inspires her every day to keep fighting for families. Dakota is now in the 11th grade. Jones works for New York City and helps under-served families get resources, from health care to housing. She now has political ambitions.  

Senator Rivera says still more needs to be done. Two more bills are being considered next. One concerns insurance coverage for families impacted by lead and the other focuses on regulations that would hold buildings owners more accountable.