In a perfect world, every child would grow up and be nurtured in a loving, caring family, attend a challenging and exciting school and live in a community that supports their growth- but not every child has that opportunity. The Children’s Aid Society helps children in poverty to succeed and thrive and provides a wide range of comprehensive services in high needs neighborhoods to children and their families. The agency has been a fixture in New York City children’s lives, providing innovative services in community centers, community schools, clinics, camps, and offices, from Staten Island to Westchester, in more than 50 sites and services.
Children’s Aid Society’s foster care programs draw their histories back to the founding of the society in 1853, making this our 160th year helping children. The beginning of this history was a decision that- instead of serving abandoned or orphaned children in orphanages or other group settings- efforts should be made to place them in families that could care for them. With this, the modern version of foster care was born in a program called The Orphan Train, through which children who needed families traveled to states in the west where they were taken in by families who volunteered to provide them care. Today the families that care for our foster children are recruited in the very same neighborhoods that the children need placement from, so that children experience far less disruptions than a permanent trip out of state. But that isn’t to say it isn’t difficult.
The Children’s Aid Society provides foster care to about 550 young people annually ranging in age from 0 to 21 years of age. Our agency is pleased to provide Family Foster Care, Treatment Family Foster Care, and Medical Foster Care so that children with special needs, such as the emotional or behaviorally disordered children in TFFC or the medically fragile or chronically ill children of MFC, can be in families rather than more restrictive settings, such as residential programs or hospitals. Thanks to child welfare reform work in New York, the number of children in foster care is at a historically low level with just over 11,000 children in care. The Children’s Aid Society is able to facilitate the adoption of a little more than 90 children each year for the past few years, while continuing to work with about 120 children to help get them ready for adoption.
Adoption from foster care is a very important way for families to provide what children need. When children enter foster care, the initial plan is for children to return to live with their families once they have adequately resolved the problems that made their children unsafe and made foster care necessary. While a little more than half of children who enter care return home to their birth families, the rest will need other plans to end the temporary placement of foster care. When children cannot be returned to family members, and other plans cannot be achieved, the agency asks the family court to free the child for adoption. At this point, a plan to make a new permanent, legal family through adoption begins. Many children are adopted by the family that has been their foster family, and those are considered excellent outcomes. Some children are unable to be adopted by the families caring for them and these are the children that need to have families recruited for their adoption.
Children who need adoptive families are of great concern to our program because they are the children who are waiting for us to find them permanent homes. We recruit through the New York State Family Album, Wednesday’s Child, the Heart Gallery, and other targeted resources on the internet for specific children and their special needs. Families from all over the state and country reach out to try and match with our adoptive children and we are in regular need of other families ready to be the permanent family for a waiting child. People who are interested in adoption can get more information from the Administration for Children’s Services at the NYC.gov website and the State Adoption Registry through www.ocfs.state.ny.us.
For more information
For more information call Adoption and Foster Care at (212) 949-4686.