Families, Youth, Providers, Advocates to State Leadership:
This Budget, Ensure that Every New York Child Has the Chance to Grow up in a Loving, Supportive Family
ALBANY – Today, CHAMPS-NY, a statewide group of advocates, providers, families and young people impacted by the child welfare system, convened in Albany to call on state leaders to advance state policy and practice that ensures when children must enter foster care, they are placed in well-supported, family-based settings whenever possible.
2018 saw the passage of groundbreaking federal legislation: the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA). This law makes prevention of child maltreatment a priority while strengthening family-based foster care supports for children who need it. It does so by allowing states to use federal foster care funding for preventive services that help keep children safe and families together.
Research shows that loving, supportive families – birth, kin, foster or adoptive – are critical to the healthy development of children. Children in foster care experience better outcomes when placed with a well-supported relative or close family friend, or if none are available or appropriate, with a supportive foster family.
New York can create better outcomes for children in foster care and meet new federal requirements with improved practices related to recruiting, retaining and strengthening foster and kinship families and short-term residential care interventions:
- The Family First Transition Fund, proposed in the FY2020 Executive Budget, is a public-private partnership that offers counties funding to support children in family-based care and strengthen foster and kinship families with the expectation that resulting savings would be reinvested to help to prevent more children from entering foster care. This proposal is a crucial first step: CHAMPS urges the Legislature to add at least $3 million per year in general fund dollars to this fund.
- KinGAP Financing: Re-structure the Kinship Guardian Assistance Program (KinGAP) subsidy payments in a manner similar to adoption subsidies, outside of the capped Foster Care Block Grant. The current structure caps the counties’ ability to pay and limits the use of this important permanency option for children.
- Restore State Funding for Preventive Services: To help meet eligibility criteria for federal funding under FFPSA and support counties’ efforts to both expand and implement evidence-based preventive services, the State should restore preventive funding from 62% state share back to 65%, as is written in state statute, and designate the restored funds to used be by counties to support evidence-based services. State reimbursement for preventive and protective services, which is set at 65% in statute, has been reduced to 62% through the state budget each year since 2008. These same evidence-based services designed to keep children together with their parents can also serve and support foster families, including kin foster families, should foster care become necessary.
Here in New York, more can be done to ensure children who enter foster care are placed with a family – ideally, with kin:
- On average, in counties outside NYC, less than 75% of children separated into foster care are placed with families-compared to the national average of over 88% placed with families.
- Engaging relatives as foster parents also varies greatly around the state: while 30.5 percent of children in foster care in New York City live with relatives, in jurisdictions outside New York City, only 12.7 percent of children in foster care live with relatives.
- While residential care is needed and will continue to play a critical role in providing short-term treatment and stabilization for children in crisis, it is an expensive intervention and it cannot be a substitute for family.
“Since my time in the Assembly, when I was named Chair of the Select Committee on Foster Care, my advocacy for foster youth has ceaselessly continued,” Senator Roxanne J. Persaud, Chair of the Social Services Committee said. “I commend the CHAMPS coalition for fighting for New York’s vulnerable children, our unified voices help to ensure the best outcomes for youth placed in foster care.”
“Children do best in families. In the great State of New York, we have more than enough families to care for all children in foster care, including children with complex needs. But we must begin treating these amazing families who step-up to be foster parents as valued partners. Group homes and intuitions are needed and they can play an important role but they cannot be places where children grow-up. The key to healing is the love and belonging of family.” – Jeremy Kohomban, CEO and President, The Children’s Village.
“The Adoptive and Foster Family Coalition of New York, as the organization that represents foster families, is committed to working with counties and New York State to reduce the number of youth in group homes and institutions, and to ensuring that foster parents have the support they need to nurture children and youth in family-based settings.” – Richard Heyl de Ortiz, Executive Director, Adoptive and Foster Family Coalition of New York.
“The Family First Transition Fund is the first of many steps we must take to demonstrate that New York is not only serious about preparing the state for implementation of the federal Family First Prevention Services Act, but recognizes that the spirit and the intent of the law is a goal worth investing in: every child needs a family.” – Paige Pierce, CEO, Families Together in New York State
“The Family First Transition Fund is modeled on successful programs underway in Onondaga, Dutchess, and Westchester counties where they are using proven, cost-effective models to place children in foster care with loving, approved relatives. The Redlich Horwitz Foundation is excited to partner with the State to do what’s best for kids and what’s best for New York: provide other NY counties the small investment funds they need to ensure more kids in foster care are raised in families.” – Sarah Chiles, Executive Director, Redlich Horwitz Foundation
“We are embarking on the first of many positive changes to provide more appropriate care for vulnerable children to improve life-long outcomes. The wise investment of private and public transition funds in a thoughtful way provides the multiyear approach to support all New Yorkers. Children are our future and we must nurture and guide their growth and development.” – William Gettman, CEO, Northern Rivers Family of Services
“The evidence is abundantly clear and it is long past time for public policy to come in line. Children can heal and thrive in supported family-based settings. New York State policy and investment needs to focus on kin and foster families. We enthusiastically support the creation of the Family First Transition Fund, a small and important public private fund to encourage and support family-based foster care.” – Kate Breslin, President & CEO, Schuyler Center for Analysis & Advocacy
Visit www.fosteringchamps.org/ny to learn more.