September Is Kinship Care Month in New York State
September is Kinship Care Month in New York. For the fourth year, legislators in the Senate and Assembly unanimously passed resolutions declaring September as Kinship Care Month, and the Governor has also again issued a proclamation. Similar resolutions have passed in nine other states and the U.S. Senate.
Kinship care refers to the more than 200,000 families in New York State who are grandparents or other relatives raising the children of family members. Children who enter into the care of relatives often do so for the same reasons they might enter into foster care, because their parents are unable or unfit to care for them. Recently, there’s been a surge in kinship care due to the heroin epidemic, leaving countless children suddenly without parents.
According to a 2014 study published by the Center for Disease Control, children in non-parental care were more likely to have experienced adverse family experiences. Kinship caregivers are a national resource for vulnerable children, with grandparents, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers and other relatives caring for children who've experienced trauma from abuse, neglect, and parental loss. Research has shown that children who live with relatives after being removed from their parents often have better outcomes than children who enter foster care with non-relatives.
New York State is a national leader in recognizing the efforts of kinship caregivers. The Governor, the New York State Legislature, the Office of Children and Family Services and the Office for the Aging have been especially supportive of kinship. “Grandparents, aunts, uncles, adult siblings and other relative caregivers are vitally important in caring for children whose parents, for a variety of reasons, are unable to care for them,” said NYS Office of Children and Family Services Commissioner Sheila J. Poole. “New York State is proud to support these heroic individuals who help bring permanency, stability, and most importantly, love to children who need them, and who enjoy successful lives thanks to the contributions from their relative caregivers.”
Locally, kinship caregivers can find support, resources and referrals from Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Relatives as Parents Program (RAPP). Among the numerous programs through RAPP, the peer mentor program which allows seasoned caregivers to “give back” and support those new to the caregiving role epitomizes the spirit of Kinship Care month. These peer mentors not only continue to care for the relative children in their homes, but extend their caregiving role to help others find success as they adjust to all the changes associated with becoming a kinship caregiver.
For more information on kinship families, services, or to get involved, contact Cornell Cooperative Extension Orange County’s Relatives as Parents Program (RAPP) at www.cceorangecounty.org, or call 845-344-1234.
Last updated October 27, 2017