Initiatives > Kinship Care


Kinship Care

There are thousands of children in the rural areas of New York State being raised by relatives, many of whom are grandparents. Any relative, other than a parent, who is the primary caregiver is providing what is now known as Kinship Care. These arrangements may be either temporary or permanent and are established when the parents are unable or unwilling to care for a child due to illness, addiction, incarceration or violence. This care model keeps children in a familiar and nurturing environment and prevents the need for the state to make a foster care placement.

Grandparents and other relatives who assume care for these children often lack authority to make important decisions concerning these children. Also, they often have limited knowledge of the financial, legal, and health care services available to assist them. It is important that these Kinship Caregivers consider filing for custody to have the legal right to make decisions and access services for the children in their care.
Because there is little or no access to legal assistance for low-income grandparents, most attempt to gain custody by entering the Family Court unrepresented. Since they will be required to show extraordinary circumstances in their petitions, many are unsuccessful.
The Rural Law Center has entered into a model partnership with a Department of Social Services that provides assistance with petition completion and training for caseworkers. In 2015, our program provided legal support to 32 rural families. Additionally, we provided training for  caseworkers, which we estimate will impact the placement of over 50 children in supportive, extended family networks.   




This communication is made available by the Rural Law Center of New York, Inc. as a public service and is issued to inform, not to advise.  No person should attempt to interpret or apply any law without the assistance of an attorney.  The opinions expressed in this communication are those of the authors and not of the Rural Law Center's funding sources.

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