More than fifty years ago, foster and adoptive families across the state came together to advocate for the needs of their families and the children.
What began as conversations in parent groups, has grown into the Coalition you see today.
The Beginnings of the Coalition: NYSCCC
Incorporated in 1975 as the New York State Citizens Coalition for Children, the Coalition was created to address problems in the state’s child welfare system. These problems resulted in protracted foster care stays in what was intended to be a temporary system, but had, in fact, become the way of life for thousands of New York’s children. They also resulted in problems for parents who had adopted their children privately and were unable to access needed support services.
The Coalition’s activities to address these problems over history have been focused on:
- Education and support for foster parents, adoptive parents and family members raising relative’s children, as well as professionals who serve these families and children
- Parent Group Development and Support Services
- Administrative and Legislative Advocacy
- Access to post adoption and post placement support services throughout the state.
Becoming the Adoptive and Foster Family Coalition of New York
In 2015, as part of a strategic planning process, we revisited our name. We decided that it is time to make a change — to a name that honors the “Coalition” — the bringing together of parents, professionals and others who care about children in foster and kinship care and those who are adopted — and also clearly expresses our focus. Thus, we transformed into the Adoptive and Foster Family Coalition of New York.
Adding AGAPE and Growing
In 2016, the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) launched the Regional Permanency Resource Center initiative. The Coalition was one of twelve organizations chosen to initiate regional post-adoption and post-guardianship support programs. Our Adoptive and Guardianship Assistance Program for Everyone (AGAPE) came into being.
Since then, the Coalition’s AGAPE has grown to serve nineteen counties – or one-third of all counties outside of New York City. For the families who desperately need support, and for the children and youth who need and deserve the stability of loving, permanent families, we opened up additional offices on both Long Island and Ithaca. The Coalition staff grew form one employee under an Executive Director to over twenty!
We continue to build and grow the Coalition’s role and place in New York’s child welfare world and we continued to work; building on existing relationships and considering the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
Some Highlights of Our Successful Projects and Endeavors
New York City Foster and Adoptive Parent Manual Initiative 2012
In 2012, the Coalition worked with the New York City Administration for Children’s Services to develop a template for a personalized, agency-specific foster /adoptive parent manual for New York City foster care agencies. With funding provided by a contract with the New York City Administration for Children’s Services utilizing funds from Casey Family Programs, and the National Center for Child Welfare Excellence., we worked to create fill-in-the blank manual to provide New York City foster care agencies with a cost effective, efficient mechanism to create their own personalized manual containing information about agency-specific policies and procedures on communication, financial issues, training, and other information their families need to know.
All New York City foster care agencies are welcome and encouraged to utilize the manual template and personalize it for the foster parents they serve. During 2012, we began working with Catholic Guardian Society & Home Bureau, SCO, St. Dominics, Abbott House, Leake and Watts, Children’s Aid Society, Forestdale and New Alternatives for Children. To date, Leake and Watts and SCO have finished their manuals and several other agencies are close to completion.
The Coalition strongly encourages New York City agency foster parents and professionals to inquire about your agency’s progress and/or plans, and all New York City foster care agencies to consider utilizing this important and cost-effective new tool to provide increased support and information for foster and adoptive families. We would be glad to assist you in any way to encourage your agency’s participation.
Statewide Post Adoption Services Survey 2009-2010
More than a decade ago, a dream came into being at the Coalition – a vision of statewide post-adoption support services for families and young people. We made the case with legislators. We talked with leadership at the New York State Office of Children and Family Services. When we learned there was not good data on what services would best support families, we partnered with Cornell University to conduct a statewide survey of adoptive parents. During the winter of 2009/2010, a survey was undertaken to help determine the post adoption service needs of families in New York. The final report, Parents and Professionals Identify Post Adoption Service Needs in New York State, included information on current programs in NYS, research on post adoption service needs of families, the survey results, and recommendations for future services. This survey remains the only one of its kind in New York and directly lead to the state’s implementation of Regional Permanency Resource Centers.
Caregivers Support Project 2007-2009
The Caregivers Supports Project was to create sustainable support systems families parenting children with developmental disabilities. A three-year grant from the New York State Developmental Disability Council enabled the Coalition to provide community based organizations with mini grant funds, technical assistance, and on-site training to develop and implement family support projects and services to meet local needs.
“Answering the Call” 2004-2009
From the spring of 2004 to the fall of 2009, the Coalition was pleased to be a partner in the nationwide campaign to recruit adoptive and foster families. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families in collaboration with the Adoption Exchange Association, The Collaboration to AdoptUsKids and the Ad Council, developed the public service advertising campaign. The Coalition served as the Recruitment Response Team for Upstate New York answering the nationwide toll free number answering inquiries from prospective adoptive and foster families, assisting and encouraging families to obtain home studies, and connecting them to local parent support networks. The Coalition was pleased to be a part of this important project, and contributed to the recruitment and retention of hundreds and hundreds of New York State adoptive and foster families during the six years of project services.
LINK Families 2001-2005
Linking Information Networks for Kids was an AFFCNY project developed in partnership with the Syracuse Salvation Army Adoption Opportunities Concurrent Planning Project from 2001 to 2005. Recognizing that foster/adoptive parents are key resources to help the children understand and handle the ambiguity related to concurrent planning, the Salvation Army contracted with AFFCNY to develop the necessary training and support systems to empower foster parents to assist the child through the concurrent planning process. AFFCNY LINK Family activities led to a significant increase in the number, effectiveness, and viability of parent led foster parent associations in New York State.
Training and information tools developed during the project included an extensive collection of resources on shared parenting issues and Foster Parents Speak, a 20 minute video that explores foster parenting today through the experiences and insights of foster families. Foster parents speak candidly about the challenges in developing and nurturing shared parenting relationships with birth families and professionals to benefit the children in their care. They share real life techniques and strategies for improving communication and cooperation to create partnerships that support children in the foster care system.
Completed Projects at a Glance:
- Caregivers Support Project: Supporting Families Parenting Children with Developmental Disabilities (2007-2009)
- The Coalition’s AdoptUsKids Recruitment Response Team (2004-2009)
- LINK Families: Linking Information Networks for Kids (2001-2005)
- CoalitioNet: Networking for Adoption (1997-2001) pdf
- Meeting Children’s Needs in Transracial and Transcultural Adoptive and Foster Families(1997-1998)
- Adoptive Parent Groups: Leadership for Children and Families (1993-1995)
- Adoptive Families for Minority Children: Parent Group Recruitment and Support (1991-1992)
- Parents as Partners: Serving Special Needs Adoption (1990-1991)
- Parent Groups “CAN” – Activities included hosting the first annual New York statewide adoption training conference for adoptive and foster parents, caseworkers, administrators, mental health professionals, and advocates. (1989-1990)
- Developed and implemented the first statewide adoption exchange and model curriculum for training adoption caseworkers in conducting group home studies using adoptive parent casework partners. (1982)
Awards Received Over the Years
- Angel in Adoption | Congressional Coalition on Adoption (2000)
- Adoption Excellence Award (Support for Adoptive Families) | United States Department of Health and Human Services (2000)
- Friend of Adoption | Adoption Resource Network (1998)
- Child Advocate of the Year | Family Focus (1997)
- Child Advocate of the Year | North American Council on Adoptable Children (1984)