In the world of foster care, adoption and kinship care, there is ample room for change and improvement. For 2017/2018, we’ve identified our key advocacy priorities, but know that the list does not end there. Other issues of which we are aware:
Statewide post adoption and post guardianship support
Building on the Regional Permanency Resource Center initiative, ensure that post-adoption and post-guardianship support is available to all families in every county in New York. In addition, the Coalition believes that it is essential to extend this support to all relative caregivers who either have legal custody or guardianship. Despite the fact that custody and guardianship are virtually equivalent under New York State law, that in some counties courts will only entertain custody petitions from relatives and that the needs of these families and children are the same regardless of legal instrument, currently the New York State Office of Children and Family Services will allow programs to serve only those families with guardianship.
Provide tuition waivers for youth in or formerly in foster care for college or vocational training
While the Governor’s Excelsior Scholarship program may provide a partial answer for those who choose to attend a state or community college, the Coalition remains concerned that adoptive families and foster care alumni do not have parity in terms of financial access to college or vocational school. The fact of the matter is that families that adopt older children or children with sometimes costly special needs are at a disadvantage in terms of saving for education beyond high school. This situation is even more acute for young people who age out of foster care.
Support principles that open, collaborative principles that strengthen families and better support children, specifically open adoption; transitions in foster care and direct placement; and shared parenting in foster and kinship care.
Generally accepted best practices in adoption dictate that loss for children should be minimized and that children and families should have the benefit of knowing and understanding the breath of their family, both adopted and biological. While the solution is different in each situation, the Coalition supports open, collaborative adoption.
Similarly, the Coalition supports this philosophy in foster and kinship care. Too often, foster care is divisive. The Coalition believes that a different focus in training and recruitment could, for example, lead to better support during transitions from foster home to parent and potential mentoring of the parent while their child is in foster care and after reunification.
In kinship care, families need support to overcome intra-family issues that sometimes are a part of the relationship or history between the relative caregiver and the parent.
Allow for the retention of custody in voluntary residential placements
The Coalition believes that parents should not be forced to relinquish custody by “voluntarily” placing their children in foster care in order to secure services such as placement in a residential facility. Families turn to the child welfare system because it may be the best placement or they have no insurance for other options, or other options are inaccessible. The New York State Office of Children and Family Services is only system in New York that requires parents to relinquish custody in order to get out-of-home care. At least thirteen states do not require relinquishment.
Questions? Is there an issue is that is important to you that you don’t see on our list. We would love to hear from you. Contact Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy, our Outreach and Advocacy Coordinator or Richard Heyl de Ortiz, our Executive Director, at 646.688.4321 or via email at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.