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2013 KinCare Summit: More NY Agencies Need to Be Involved

PHOTO: Cate Newbanks on panel in Albany discussing kinship care, which affects more than 150,000 New York children. Photo credit: NYS Kinship Navigator.
PHOTO: Cate Newbanks on panel in Albany discussing kinship care, which affects more than 150,000 New York children. Photo credit: NYS Kinship Navigator.
October 23, 2013

ALBANY, N.Y. - Kinship Caregivers held their 2013 summit just blocks from the state Capitol on Tuesday to signal that more state agencies need to target assistance to New York children in the care of relatives other than their parents.

The Office of Children and Family Services is a positive example of an agency that knows the special needs of kinship families, said Gerard Wallace, project director for the New York State Kinship Navigator. However, he added, more state agencies need to reach out to grandparents and others who care for more than 150,000 children in New York.

"There are other agencies like the Department of Education, the Department of Health and the Offices of Mental Health, in particular, that have yet to recognize the critical role they can play in supporting these families," he said.

The summit drew grandparents and other kinship caregivers, as well as state lawmakers, leaders of state agencies and children's, legal and social-service advocates.

Cate Newbanks, executive director of the National Kinship Alliance for Children, said mental-health services are vital for helping children in kinship care cope with such issues as grief and trauma.

"Any time children are removed from their birth family, they're uprooted from their home, they end up going through grief, they end up going through some trauma," she said, "and it affects their eventual brain development."

Newbanks said the Department of Education also can do more to help these kids succeed by helping to prevent unnecessary disruption in their schooling.

"In order for that to happen, Child Welfare and Education need to be pulling together," she said, "and finding ways to ensure those children are allowed to remain in their home schools when it's in their best interest."

While some state agencies have yet to develop programs that focus on kinship-care families, Wallace said progress was made toward that goal at the summit.

"There are a number of task force planning committees that work between agencies to coordinate services," he said, "and we are having success at getting them involved."

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY