Family Connections in NY: “Progress not Perfection”
NEW YORK - A new report says family connections make all the difference and it ranks New York in the middle of the pack for finding stable family settings for children in the child welfare system. One sign of progress in the new report is the way New York is helping to preserve family connections.
Dr. Jeremy Kohomban is CEO of the Children's Village regional treatment center in Manhattan, which according to the report has greatly expanded its network of foster families in recent years.
"We have many more children living in families, including teenagers, and I think the report is a wake-up call to remind us that while we made progress, that there's a lot more we can do," says Kohomban.
The report,Every Child Needs a Family, says New York just misses the national average with 83 percent of out-of-home placements made with family, compared to 84 percent nationwide.
Gerard Wallace, director with the New York State Kinship Navigator program, says the results vary from one county to the next because the state takes a decentralized approach in supporting extended families that care for children who have been removed from their homes.
"In many counties more kin take on children without any supports," he says. "In some counties, particularly more downstate, it is predominantly foster kinship that works."
Wallace say more than 20,000 children still live in group home settings and the state is working hard to get higher placement of kin as foster parents.
"New York just increased its funding for kinship services and it doubled it," he says. "New York is going to be releasing soon the 13 or so programs that it will fund across the state to support kinship families that are not in foster care and those programs are critical. "
The Casey report finds about 57,000 children nationwide are living in group homes. It says there is no documented behavioral or clinical reason for placing 40 percent of children in group homes.