(May 29, 2018) NEW YORK – When children are removed from their parents due to safety concerns, New York City works with foster care agencies to quickly find them loving and nurturing homes—preferably with relatives or other adults they know well. But this process does not always run smoothly. That’s why a group of funders has come together to help nonprofits use promising approaches to find excellent foster homes for kids in partnership with New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services (ACS).
The New York Community Trust has joined with the Redlich Horwitz Foundation, Ira W. DeCamp Foundation, Joseph Leroy & Ann C. Warner Fund, and Tiger Foundation to improve the lives of foster children. They will fund five agencies to work with ACS’ Home Away from Home initiative, designed to increase placement of children in foster care with family members and friends (known as kinship caregivers) and improve foster parent recruitment, training, and retention. Through the program, ACS has provided funding, consultation with national child welfare experts, and tools to foster care providers, as well as created new resources to help prospective foster parents become certified, with support from the City and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.
The newly-funded agencies include: The New York Foundling, Good Shepherd Services, Graham Windham, Sheltering Arms Children and Family Services, and Coalition for Hispanic Family Services. In addition, New Yorkers For Children will receive funding to hire consultants to help the agencies integrate best practices into their work in the future.
Together, the organizations will receive $750,000 this year, with likelihood of a second year of support from the Foster Care Excellence Fund in The New York Community Trust to:
Federal and state laws require child welfare agencies to ﬁnd and consider kin ﬁrst when making foster care placement decisions. Yet too often, it is easier to place children with foster parents who are already licensed or in a congregate care facility with an open bed. As part of this program, kinship specialists will be hired to use search engines, social media, genograms, and other resources to identify kin and support families to ensure foster children thrive. Other changes include developing a kinship ﬁrewall—which means all non-kin placements must be approved by a high-level supervisor.
When placement with kin is not an option, children need foster parents who are well-prepared to address their traumatic experiences and advance their well-being. In New York, finding great foster homes in neighborhoods where foster children live is a challenge. These grants will help agencies pinpoint where foster families are needed, assess the status of the current pool of foster homes, and engage current foster parents, community groups and houses of worship to increase the number of quality foster homes.
“We are thrilled to help more agencies participate in this promising program,” says Natasha Lifton, senior program officer for human services at The New York Community Trust. “Kids in foster care have experienced tremendous trauma in their young lives. We owe it to them to find quality homes where they can get the love and support they need to heal and succeed.”
“We greatly appreciate this public/private partnership with the Foster Care Excellence Fund,” said ACS Commissioner David Hansell. “These new grants will significantly advance ACS’ priority and the Interagency Foster Care Task Force recommendation to increase placement with kin, and will also support our efforts to recruit and support foster parents.”
“Thanks to strong ACS leadership, the Home Away From Home initiative has already achieved great results in recruiting additional foster homes and placing more children with kin,” says Sarah Chiles, executive director of the Redlich Horwitz Foundation. “The Foster Care Excellence Fund is designed to provide additional financing and technical assistance to expand that success citywide.”
The New York Community Trust connects past, present, and future generous New Yorkers with vital nonprofits working to make a healthy, equitable, and thriving community for all. It is a public grantmaking foundation dedicated to improving the lives of residents of New York City, Westchester, and Long Island.
Learn more about our work to improve children’s lives.