Below is a template letter that will be sent to the Office of Children and Family Services, the Legislature, and the Governor.
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Please sign on no later than Tuesday April 14, 2020
Re: NYS Budget and Local Kinship Services
Dear Commissioner Poole/Speaker Heastie/Leader Stewart-Cousins/Governor Cuomo,
We are writing to share our concern with the reduction in funding in the NYS budget for local kinship programs.
The Coalition has worked to ensure that kinship caregivers are not forgotten, specifically those who are not in foster care, and has helped encourage the funding of services for informal kinship families every year. Unfortunately, this year the funding for services in the final budget was cut to $1,288,750, a $950,000 reduction.
During these difficult times, we now face a reality that will lead to many kinship caregivers losing services. These caregivers are often the most vulnerable population, being asked to care for children with little or no notice, and who subsequently struggle with access to financial resources, legal resources, and other sources of support for the children in their care. Our local kinship programs have helped stabilize families in crisis, offering much needed support and permanency to a child welfare population that is often left on the fringes to fend for themselves.
We are also concerned with the budget in light of the recent RFA issued by the Office of Children and Family Services for kinship services, with the expectation that there would be $2,238,750 available for the new contracts in September 2020. The cut in funding means a substantial reduction in the number of programs that will be funded, and the potential for programs who are currently serving caregivers to close their doors with no program replacement to assist families.
We hope that there might be some way to sustain the programs until the next year’s budget.
We request that you consider how OCFS could sustain these local kinship services. We know you have had a long standing commitment to the kinship community, and we are certain that you share our wish to continue these valuable services. We are committed to doing whatever we can to ensure kinship caregivers and their families have access to much needed assistance and support.
Thank you for your consideration of the kinship community during this difficult time.
The NYS KinCare Coalition