the country, more than six million children -- approximately
1 in 12 children -- are living in households headed by grandparents
or other relatives. The District of Columbia has
more than 113,000 children living in households headed by grandparents
or other relatives. In many of these households, grandparents
and other relatives are the primary caregivers (“kinship caregivers”)
for children whose parents cannot or will not care for them
due to substance abuse, illness and death, abuse and neglect,
economic hardship, incarceration, divorce, domestic violence,
and other family and community crises.
at the Numbers: Kinship Care in New York
The data below
show the numbers of grandparents who are living in households
with at least one grandchild under the age of 18, as well
as the numbers of grandparents who are the primary caregivers
for these grandchildren. These numbers were reported by the
2000 U.S. Census and are available for every place (as defined
by the U.S. Census Bureau) in the country, including cities,
towns, villages, and boroughs, on the U.S. Census website.*
Living in Households with One or More Own Grandchildren
Responsible for Meeting the Basic Needs of Grandchildren
are taken from the U.S. Census Bureau Table DP-2. Profile
Selected Social Characteristics: 2000.
Care Initiatives in New York
In New York,
public and private agencies and grassroots coalitions of grandparents
and other relative caregivers have begun working together
to expand the services available to kinship caregivers who
are caring for children outside of the foster care system.
the major kinship care programs and supports are listed below.
Additional support groups can be found through the AARP
Grandparent Information Center Database. Call 1-800-424-3410,
e-mail information requests to email@example.com, or search
AARP’s online kinship care support group database at http://www.aarp.org/grandparents/searchsupport/.
state and national kinship care resources and supports
are available on the Generations United website at http://www.gu.org,
and GrandsPlace at http://www.grandsplace.org and
Grandparent Again at http://www.grandparentagain.com,
two websites coordinated by grandparents raising grandchildren.
A list of kinship care programs
in New York is also available on The Brookdale Foundation’s
website at http://www.brookdalefoundation.org.
Initiative for Kin Families: Since 1995, the New York
State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) has served as a focal
point for the development of programs and information for
grandparents and kin caring for children. From the inception
of NYSOFA's Targeted Caregiver Initiative (TCI), there has
been awareness that only through the establishment of collaborative
partners at both the state and local levels can the multiple
needs of these caregivers be met. Through the TCI grandparent
program, 27 local offices for the aging have received seed
grants to work in collaboration with community-based organizations
to develop support groups, resources and information and referral
for grandparents and other relatives raising children.
This network of support groups across New York State (NYS)
has played a vital role in mentoring new programs.
In 1996, NYSOFA
became part of the Brookdale Foundation’s National Relatives
As Parents Program (RAPP). As a recipient of a two year RAPP
grant NYSOFA was able to accomplish the following goals: 1)
creation of five new relative caregiver support groups in
different parts of the state; 2) establishment of a "task
force" of 17 state agencies responsible for implementation
of legislation and dissemination of information about grandparents
raising grandchildren; and 3) continuation of a statewide
local network of support group programs.
information sharing with "task force" member agencies in 1997,
NYSOFA secured a three year grant from the NYS Developmental
Disabilities Planning council. This grant facilitated
the development of the curriculum, Help for Grandparents Raising
Children with Developmental Disabilities, designed to help
grandparents raising children with developmental disabilities
meet the challenges they face by teaching them how to deal
with the many issues affecting them. Topics include
recognizing a disability, coping with the challenges of raising
a child with a developmental disability, understanding the
educational system, and legal issues of children with special
needs. During the last year of the grant, five pilot programs
were funded in selected counties in the state to integrate
the curriculum in their support group sessions.
As a strategy
to increase the aging network’s ability to address the needs
of relative caregivers, NYSOFA partnered with the Brookdale
Center on Aging's Grandparent Caregiver Law Center to provide
statewide legal service provider training. These five
training sessions provided attendees with information on:
informal custody, legal custody and guardianship, the Federal
Adoption and Safe Families Act, federal and state legislation
and grandparent visitation laws.
sharing and collaborative approach established with many of
the task force agencies have allowed NYSOFA to work in partnership
with other State agencies to identify additional resources
for the development of programs to assist relative caregivers
across New York State.
aware that the key to successful local grandparent programs
is the provision of resources and training that will enable
service providers with limited staff to serve grandparents
in an efficient manner. Therefore, the following resources
are available through NYSOFA at no cost:
For Grandparents Raising Children with Developmental Disabilities
· Legal Issues Facing
Grandparents Raising Grandchildren (two video set)
· Local Resource Guide
· 30 Second Public Service
Announcement on Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
Troche, Project Coordinator at (518) 474-5041 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Log on to the NYSOFA grandparent web site for a list of statewide
support groups and resources at http://www.aging.state.ny.us/caring/grandparents.
Services for Kinship Care Families: New York State Office
of Children and Family Services (OCFS) initiated the statewide
Help for Caretaker Relatives Program in 2002. The program
delivers a wide range of services that address the multiple
needs of caregivers and the children in their care.
There are currently 19 community based, not-for-profit and
voluntary agency providers throughout New York State with
access to these funds that receive technical assistance from
OCFS in cooperation with the New York State Office for the
Aging. A brief description of the agencies that participate
in this initiative is provided below to illustrate the breadth
of the services available to kinship care families:
Corporation: coordinated family-focused approach in a rural
Dominicana, Inc.: support services including social and educational
activities for children.
Center on Aging of Hunter College: a statewide legal resource
center dedicated to offering legal support.
for the Family and Youth, Inc.: a range of services including
English/Spanish speaking support groups and mediation.
Respite Program of Catholic Charities: school based services,
adult respite care, and technological support.
Charities of Diocese of Rochester, Inc.: case management services
including parent education, referrals, outreach, and counseling.
Home Bureau of Dependent Children: a broad range of services
including assessment, financial assistance and medical/legal
for Urban Community Services: case management services and
housing advocacy along with systems “navigation.”
and Family Services: a full range of informational, educational,
and enrichment activities.
and Family Mental Health Services, Inc.: support groups as
a primary intervention program.
Cooperative Extension of Orange County: comprehensive resource/referral
services as well as counseling.
Association, Inc.: a multi-faceted approach that provides
individualized comprehensive service plans.
Service of Westchester, Inc.: a collaborative approach including
mediation, literacy/translation and outreach.
Wise Boys and Girls Club: a collaborative approach that includes
counseling, mediation and respite services.
Aid Society: advocacy, legal education and representation
to assist in securing benefits or housing.
Mental Health Services, Inc.: a team approach to “navigating”
family court and social service systems.
Senior Services: counseling, summer day camp, respite, tutoring
and support group center.
Nation of Indians: counseling and support activities for Native
Americans in Western New York.
Family Center: unique support needs of HIV-infected, addicted,
and mentally ill populations.
For more information
on the above programs contact: Robert Resnick, Project
Coordinator, New York State Office of Children and Family
Services at (518) 402-6775 or email@example.com.
and Information for New York City: New York City Department
for the Aging Grandparent Resource Center (GRC) provides
information and assistance to kinship care families in the
New York City area. The Center has established Support Group
Coalitions in each borough based on the Brooklyn Grandparents
Coalition model. The Manhattan, Bronx, and Queens coalitions
offer support groups, case management, training, and recreational
activities. In a strategy to help grandparents get the
health care they need, the GRC collaborates with Beth Israel
Medical Center to provide on-site comprehensive medical care
to both grandparents and their grandchildren.
sponsors a citywide Grandparent Conference with the Kin Care
Task Force biannually and is sponsoring a citywide Grandparent
Recognition Ceremony. The resource center collaborates
and advocates with other municipal governmental agencies (i.e.:
the Administration for Children’s Services and the Department
of Mental Health).
With a grant
from the New York State Office for the Aging, the New York
City Department for Aging developed it’s first curriculum:
For Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: A Series of Workshops
to Help You COPE. In addition, the GRG also developed
a second curriculum and offers it and the following resource
guides for free:
· For Grandparents Raising
Grandchildren: More Help for You and Your Family (curriculum)
· The Grandparents Raising
Grandchildren Book: Skipped Generation Family Support Group
· Grandparent Resource
Center Resource Directory of Supportive Services.
with the Brookdale Center on Aging (BCOA) of Hunter College’s
Grandparent Caregiver Law Center, the GRC makes available
the BCOA’s HELP booklets, which provide answers to questions
regarding the legal and financial issues grandparent families
face. Contact: Rolanda Pyle, Director, at (212)
442-1094 or firstname.lastname@example.org; Cheryl Jackson, Community
Coordinator at (212) 442-1094 or email@example.com.
and Mental Health Services: The Brooklyn Grandparent's
Coalition is comprised of seven area agencies that provide
services and support groups to kinship caregivers. These agencies
represent a partnership between nonprofit, private and government
agencies. The Coalition offers support groups, case management,
information and referrals, mental health counseling, respite
care, training, and community outreach. The Coalition also
hosts holiday parties, recognition luncheons, psycho-educational
mini-conferences, event trips, and a triennial newsletter.
Contact: Deborah Langosch, GAP Program Director, at (718)
256-8600 or Delangosch@yahoo.com.
for Kinship Care Families in Rochester:
Skip Generations, Family Resource
Center of Rochester offers a support group and services to
kinship care families in the Rochester area. The groups
holds workshops that are designed to provide grandparents
with access to services and information that will help them
adapt to the many facets of caring for children. Refreshments
and child care are provided. Contact: Linda James, Program
Coordinator, at (716) 436-0370 ext. 12 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Family Center received a three-year grant from the Administration
on Aging in 2001 to develop a comprehensive, coordinated system
for delivering supportive services to kinship caregivers.
The services include information & referral, education,
counseling, social supports, support groups, legal assistance,
financial counseling, case management, respite and individual
and systemic advocacy for the kinship caregivers. Children
& youth programming includes asset-building activities
for children and youth (workshops, discussion groups, field
trips) as well as support groups. Catholic Family Center
has also collaborated with The Kinship Care Resource Network,
the Catholic Youth Organization and the Urban League. Contact:
Laurie Marshall, Program Manager, at (585) 262-7048 or email@example.com.
of Support Groups in Buffalo: The Salvation Army Grandparent
Enrichment Program (SAGE) provides weekly support groups activities.
Speakers are invited to address a variety of topics that include
legal issues for relative caregivers, understanding diversity,
domestic violence, healthy eating, handling stress, family
literacy, and internet for seniors. Contact: Carmelita Gary
at (716) 888-6224.
Care and New York’s Foster Care System
children in the care of the states are placed in foster care
with grandparents or other relatives. In New York, The
Office of Children & Family Services reports:
of children in kinship out-of-home placements: As of December
2001, there were 40,409 children in out-of-home placements.
Of these children, 8,671 children (21%) were placed with kin.
for kinship placements: State law requires that kin be
considered first when an out-of-home placement is sought for
a child under the Office’s care.
for kinship foster parents: There is no separate licensing
program for kinship foster parents. Kin have to meet
the same licensing standards and receive the same foster care
payment rate as non-kin foster parents.
Guardianship: In addition to foster care payments and
other benefits available to kin raising children in the foster
care system, some states also have subsidized guardianship
programs. New York does currently not have a subsidized guardianship
care contact: Questions about kinship care should be directed
to Jamie Greenberg, Program Specialist, New York Office of
Children & Family Services, (518) 473-1327 or e-mail:
for New York Kinship Care Families
by kinship caregivers are often eligible for a range of state
and federal programs. In most cases, kinship caregivers may
apply for these programs on a child’s behalf even though they
are not the child’s parents or legal guardians. Some
examples of these programs include:
Cash assistance may be available to children and their grandparents
and other relative caregivers through the New York Family
Assistance (FA) Program. Kinship care families may also
be eligible for food stamps to help meet their children’s
food and nutrition needs. For more information about
these programs, call (518) 486-9057, 1-800-342-3009 or log
on to http://www.otda.state.ny.us.
insurance: Grandparents and other relative caregivers
may apply for free or low-cost health insurance on behalf
of the children they are raising through the New York Medicaid
and Child Health Plus programs. In some cases, caregivers
may also be eligible for free health coverage under Medicaid.
For more information about how to apply for Medicaid, call
518-486-9057, 1-800-698-4KIDS or log on to http://www.health.state.ny.us.
and click on “Directory of Services.” For more information
about Child Health Plus, call 1-800-698-4KIDS or log on to
kinship caregivers find it difficult to obtain services their
children need, such as medical care or education. In addition
to the state’s child guardianship and custody laws, the following
laws may be helpful to kinship caregivers1:
Consent to Immunizations and Emergency Medical Care (N.Y.
Pub. Health Law § 2504): This law enables grandparents,
an adult aunt or uncle, adult brother or sister, or non-relatives
acting in a parental relationship to consent to the immunization
of a child. Medical, dental, health, and hospital services
may be rendered to persons of any age without the consent
of a parent or legal guardian when, in the physician's judgement
an emergency exists and the person is in immediate need of
medical attention and an attempt to secure consent would result
in delay of treatment which would increase the risk to the
person's life or health.
Guardianship (N.Y. Surr. Ct. Proc. Act § 1726): This
law allows a progressively, chronically, or irreversibly ill
parent, legal guardian, or legal custodian to designate an
alternate or "standby guardian" of a child. This law
may also apply to primary caretakers, under certain circumstances
and with court approval. The standby guardian will become
effective upon the incapacity, debilitation or death of the
child’s parent/legal guardian legal custodian/primary caretaker
or upon the consent of the parent.