AARP and service providers to grandparents raising grandchildren gathered across the state in June in Albany, New York City and Binghamton to call upon Governor Cuomo to save programs that receive state funds but which saw their budgets slashed earlier this year.
See Also: Grandparents on a Mission
The groups asked Governor Cuomo to restore $1.3 million in funding to the programs statewide. Through state budget cuts, funding for the programs statewide dropped to $340,000, a drastic reduction from $927,500 last year and $2.7 million the year before.
“The programs available through Catholic Charities are just some of the programs statewide that have had to dramatically scale back services or close their doors,” stated Lois Wagh Aronstein, AARP New York State Director. “Communities across the state are being negatively impacted and grandparents raising grandchildren are struggling to find the information they need to get by.”
A report released earlier this year by AARP and the New York State Kincare Coalition illustrates why these programs are so important. The children grandparents care for may have experienced trauma, suffer emotional distress from the loss of their birth parents, or have physical or other developmental disabilities. Kinship caregivers must overcome numerous barriers, including enrolling children in school, getting medical care, accessing family rights, and obtaining necessary benefits. These programs provide case workers, parenting skills classes, and legal assistance, to be name but a few of the myriad services programs like Catholic Charities offer to grandparents and other non-parent relatives who are raising children on behalf of parents who cannot. The reasons they cannot are diverse but may include illness, death, military service, or incarceration.
Across New York State, approximately 250,000 children are being raised by grandparents or other relatives who are not their parents while less than 26,000 children are in state foster care. For every child who is raised by a grandparent or other family member outside of the formal foster care system, New York State saves at least $22,000 per year, per child. Family arrangements often provide a safer, more stable environment for the children than foster care and cost the state much less, amounting to approximately $500.00 per child, per year.
“Grandparents are our best resource for children who are not in foster care but who’ve suffered trauma and loss. The stresses on caregivers in these kinship families are enormous,” stated Gerard Wallace, Esq., Director, NYS Kinship Navigator. “It makes no sense, nor does help keep kids out of foster care, when we eliminate the supports for the long term stability and safety of grandparents and their grandchildren.”