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. We learned, straight from the source, what families wanted and needed. This survey remains the only one of its kind in New York. Finally, we researched post-adoption programs throughout the country, seeking out successful, evidence-based models that provided effective support that kept families intact, were family-driven and helped young people heal. Tirelessly and consistently, we shared our findings and research with those in a position to make change.
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. In 2017, more regions were funded. AGAPE grew to serve fifteen counties.
Still, the puzzle was not complete. By this year, just four counties in Central New York remained unserved. OCFS requested proposals. The Coalition responded. In October, we learned that we were selected, effectively completing the call for services started and led by the Coalition over a decade ago.
Beginning in April, AGAPE will grow to serve those final four counties – Madison, Cortland, Cayuga and Chenango. In total, we will 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 could not be more thrilled.
We’re also delighted to be part of what will now truly be a statewide network of regional post-adoption and post-guardianship support. The Regional Permanency Resource Center initiative includes others such as Hillside, the Child Care Coordinating Council of the North Country, Abbott House, the Children’s Home of Jefferson County, Parsons Child and Family Center and the Council on Adoptable Children (COAC). We’re honored to stand with them in support of families and young people.
Finally, we’re thankful for the support of OCFS and the many who gave hours of time and talent to make the dream a reality. And now, we get to work!
More about post-adoption and post-guardianship services, including the provider in your region, can be found at http://affcny.org/regional-permanency-resource-centers/.