HOPE FOR TOMORROW

St. Catherine’s Center for Children awarded $900,000 Kinship Caregiver contract from New York State Office of Children and Family Services

St. Catherine’s Center for Children is pleased to announce we have been awarded a $900,000 service contract from New York State’s Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) to establish a three-year Kinship Caregiver Program. Kinship care refers to the full-time care of a child by a relative other than the child’s biological parents, including grandparents, aunts and uncles, or other adult relatives. Care provided by close family friends may also fall under the program.

“Kinship care is a vital component of New York State’s effort to care for children and youth who, for a variety of reasons, are unable to live with their biological parents,” said Frank Pindiak, executive director of St. Catherine’s Center for Children. “We are delighted to partner with the OCFS in its effort to strengthen the network of kinship care providers who are able to provide a safe and nurturing home for children who desperately need it.”

Kinship care is similar to foster care with one difference: the child or children placed in kinship care already have a tie to the family in whose home they are placed. The Office of Children and Family Services estimates that some 130,000 children in New York State already live in kinship care. Relatives or close family friends are the preferred resource for children who are unable to live with their birth parents because it maintains a child's connection to his or her family.

The OCFS award for St. Catherine’s Kinship Caregiver Program covers Albany, Schenectady, Greene and Ulster Counties, according to Nick Kurtessis, associate executive director for out-of-home children’s care at St. Catherine’s. As part of the new program, St. Catherine’s staff will reach out to current kinship care providers in the four-county region. Agency case managers will work with families and help them apply for available services and benefits.   

“New York State is hoping to reduce the number of children in foster care,” said Kurtessis. “Kinship Care is a viable way to achieve that goal. Today, many children already live with relatives or close family friends. St. Catherine’s Kinship Caregiver Program recognizes that fact, and offers these families counseling and connects them to a variety of community and public support services.”

Kinship care is often unplanned or unexpected, Kurtessis noted, and caregivers have limited knowledge or access to services which they may be eligible to receive. St. Catherine’s Kinship Caregiver Program will provide these families with the tools they need to succeed.

The Office of Children and Family Services has the option of extending the three-year award contract with St. Catherine’s for two more years at the end of the contract period.