Our Mission:

to strengthen children & families so they can live safely, independently & productively within their home communities

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Kinship Care

In New York State Child Welfare, Kinship is defined as any positive relationship with a child prior to the child coming into care. The Kin refers to the person that has the prior positive relationship with the child. Thus, Kinship Care is when a child is placed in the care of a kin.

 

Berkshire’s Foster Care Program encourages and supports Kinship Care for a variety of reasons. For instance, Kinship Care:

  • provide continuity with the child’s culture,

  • increase chances of keeping siblings together,

  • nurture permanent connections with family members,

  • reduce stigma around separation from parents, and

  • provide a home within an alike community.

 

Thus, Kinship Care aids in our mission to strengthen children and families so they can live safely, independently and productively within their home communities.

 

Even if an identified kin does not ultimately become their permanent placement, they can be a tremendous asset to the child and the families life.

 

The Local Districts of Social Service (LDSS), in collaboration with contracted Voluntary Agencies (i.e. BFC), are responsible for identifying and notifying Kin of a child’s placement in care along with assessing the Kin’s home for the potential placement of the child. 

There are four initial Kinship placement options in New York State (also known as Kinship Permanency Options):

  • A Direct Placement (known as a 1017 or N-Docket Custody) occurs when a child is removed from their home by Child Protective Services (CPS) through a neglect or abuse case and is placed temporarily with a Kin by the Family Court (Article 10 of the Family Court Act).

  • Relative or Kinship Foster Care occurs when the kin agrees to become a certified or approved foster parent for the child. The County DSS will have custody of the child while the Kinship Foster Parent has the child in their care.

  • Legal Custody or Guardianship (known as an Article 6 of V-Docket Custody) occurs when a Kin petitions the court for custody or guardianship of the child. The parent(s) of the child must consent to the Kin’s petition or proof must be provided that the parent cannot safely live with the child (alike to proving abuse or neglect).

  • Informal Care occurs when a parent informally has a Kin take primary care of their child. It is considered informal because the care is not determined through Family Court or Child Welfare System.

 

After initial placement, two other Kinship permanency options may become available:

  • Kinship Adoption occurs only if the child is freed for adoption through termination of parental rights, voluntary termination of parent rights and/or due to the death of a parent or parents. If the child is freed for adoption, the Kin can petition for an adoption. Through Adoption, the Kin becomes the legal and permanent “parent” of the child.

 

  • KinGAP (Kinship Guardianship Assistance Program) is only available to Relative or Kinship Foster Parents who want to become the guardians for a child that has been in their care for 6 months or more (see Policy for further eligibility criteria). KinGAP can take place with or without termination of parental rights. The Kinship Foster Parent must petition the Family Court in order to receive KinGAP. Kinship Foster Parents that are approved for KinGAP will receive financial assistance until child turns 18, in some cases until age 21, or until the guardianship ends. 

 

Ultimately, it is up to the County’s Local Department of Social Services (LDSS) on whether or not a kin has become a permanency resource for a child. If the LDSS would like to move forward with a Kin, Berkshire’s Kinship Program is able to certify and approve Emergency Kinship Foster Homes, provide assistance in applying for KinGAP or Kin adoption, provided interstate services through ICPC (Interstate Compact Placement of Children), providing training and support to Kinship Foster Parents and collaborate with their regional New York State Kinship Navigator.

 

For useful Kinship resources visit OCFS Kinship Care page at: https://ocfs.ny.gov/kinship/