During the month of May, New York and the nation recognized National Foster Care Month – a time to recognize the lives, work, and experiences of foster families and young people who’ve spent time in foster care. We recognize the dedication of our foster families, who commit to caring for children who enter care. We recognize the shaping force entering foster care can be in a child’s life, and we are reminded of the incredible weight of the decision to place a child into care, and of the importance of ensuring that children who enter care are provided with the best possible support.

At the Schuyler Center, we strongly believe that our first priority should always lie in keeping families intact by bolstering parents with the supports they need to successfully care for their children.  When foster care does become necessary, the state has a responsibility to ensure that children are appropriately cared for by nurturing, competent and supportive foster families who are, in turn, bolstered to provide the best possible care.

Foster families provide the state a tremendous service by stepping in to care for children when their biological parents are unable to do so. And key among those foster families are relatives – and close family friends – of the children themselves. These “kinship” families help to keep children connected to their communities, to their culture, and in a home with someone who knows and loves them. While New York has begun to place more and more children in foster care with kin, more can be done to ensure that more children have this option.

This spring – as co-lead of the CHAMPS-NY campaign – we successfully advocated for the creation of a state fund to support counties’ efforts to re-envision their foster care systems and ensure that more children are appropriately placed with families and, in particular, with kin. Through the fund three million dollars, and accompanying technical assistance, will go to counties to support innovation in the recruitment and retention of relative and non-relative foster families. We are eager to witness the changes that this funding will ignite across New York in efforts to better support our state’s children in foster care.