The elderly. The infirm. The indigent.
As of December 2018, there were 15,820 youth in foster care in New York, according to the state Office of Children and Family Services. That number has been in decline for the past decade. Still, the need for families and services is great, and the state can’t neglect this often-overlooked segment of our population, regardless of the state’s current or future financial situation.
Those on the front lines of the foster care system are seeking to improve the quality of care by working hard to ensure that foster children are placed in the care of family members whenever possible, and that these family members have the resources they need to provide these children with a safe and healthy upbringing.
According to the advocacy group CHAMPS-NY (Children Need AMazing Parents), New York state outside of New York City lags behind the national average in family and kin-based placement of foster children — 32% nationally compared with 17% here in New York after a year in care.
Advocates for more family placement say the state ne to invest more in programs like the Family First Transition Fund and Kinship Guardian Assistance Program to get more kids placed with family members.
The governor in his executive budget introduced in January supported a kinship “firewall” that would guarantee that counties exhaust all opportunities to place children with family members before placing them in other situations like group homes and congregate care institutions.
Advocates are seeking to ensure the Family First Transition Fund is funded at $4.5 million per year for the next two years. If that can’t be accomplished during the state’s fiscal crisis, then lawmakers need to at least maintain existing levels of funding.
Compensation for families to take care of foster children is an ongoing problem. It takes a lot of money to care for a child, and it’s challenging enough for families to open up their homes to a child without compounding that with financial obstacles.
Foster parents not only need money, but training and regular support.
To complement existing efforts to find healthy homes for foster children, the state ne to create an office of foster care ombudsman to help promote and support the effort on behalf of government agencies, families and foster children.
Letters to the Editor for Sunday, March 29
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Letters to the Editor for Saturday, March 28
Letters to the Editor for Friday, March 27