FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 2, 2020
CONTACT: Kenneth Londono, firstname.lastname@example.org, 917-574-8756
CHAMPS NY Statement in Response to State Budget Failing to Deliver Critical Support to Foster Children during Crisis
Now More than Ever, as New York Families Face the Challenges of Navigating Foster Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic, Children and Families Need a Recourse for Questions and Concerns
In Midst of Crisis, New York State Should Improve on Strengthening Foster Youth, Kin, and Families, Instead of Eliminating Half of Funding for Kinship Caregiver Programs
ALBANY, NY — The following statement is in response to Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature reaching a budget agreement that does not give foster children and families the tools and resources to ensure they have the best possible outcomes during these uncertain times and beyond.
“Pandemics like COVID-19 place added stress on New York’s foster care system, which already operates with constrained resources. Especially during this crisis, families need more information and more accountability as they navigate the state’s foster care system. An Office of the Foster Care Ombudsman is needed now more than ever as families with urgent, basic needs struggle to navigate the foster care system. By excluding the foster care ombudsman and restructured funding for KinGAP in the final budget agreement, our State leaders missed a critical opportunity to improve accountability within the foster care system and ensure every child in foster care has the chance to find a permanent home with a loving and supportive family. We were particularly disappointed by the nearly $1 million in cuts to funding for kinship caregiver programs, which provide vital support to kinship families. Now, as families face unprecedented challenges brought on by the pandemic, these programs are more important than ever. We will continue to advocate for more resources to support kinship families and children in foster care, and we stand ready to work with legislative leaders and Governor Cuomo as they work to provide all children the support they need,” said Paige Pierce, CEO for Families Together in NYS and Kate Breslin, President & CEO of the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy on behalf of CHAMPS-NY.
CHAMPS NY is a statewide group of advocates and providers working to promote state policy and practice change that ensures that when children must enter foster care, they are placed into family-based settings whenever possible, and that their caregivers are supported so that children experience the best possible permanency and well-being outcomes.
The national average for family and kin-based placements is 32%. New York State (outside NYC) lags far behind at 17%. Research shows that children in family-based and kin care tend to do better than those in group homes or other institutional settings. Currently, The Family First Transition Fund provides key resources for preventive programs and the Kinship Guardian Assistance Program focuses on family-based placement but both lack the necessary resources to continue as Family First implementation approaches for New York State. In order to achieve greater placement of youth into permanent homes, and remedy some of the issues in the foster care system, CHAMPS NY has outlined a few solutions:
- Establish a firewall for kinship placements and increase accountability through a Foster Care Ombudsman (this is not included the budget);
- Restructure funding streams for KinGAP to expand counties’ capacity to find families for kids and institute improved training systems for close relatives to become kinship parents (this is not included in the budget);
- Renew the Family First Transition Fund (this is flat-funded in the budget).
- Fund kinship caregiver programs to support grandparents and other kin caring for children.(full funding was not restored in budget)
These proposals will pivot New York to being a state that is focused on family-based placements rather than congregate care options, provides sufficient resources required to place youth with kin and improves the number of children in family and kin-based care.