by Gloria Dulan-Wilson
I woke up to this alarming message from AARP this morning, and couldn't even do my basic meditations before I got this off my chest.
I am sure that I stand with so many families throughout the state of New York, as well as the host of families right here in the down state areas of New York, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, Staten Island, Westchester, Long Island, etc, who are really kind of tired of having to remind you that people come first, then things.
Families first. Get it? This means that when it comes to budgetary issues, cuts to such issues as kinship programs should never have been on the table in the first place. And to see a headline of this nature from AARP, where many of you who sit there in office right now probably would not have made it had it not been for some relative who stepped in and took care of you when a parent could not, is absolutely ludicrous. And likewise, there are many of you who are known for having helped those in your community who were abandoned by family members or left without family members for reasons beyond their control.
Why such a measure would even be on the table, except to increase funds to help them do even more, I do not understand. What I do know, is that New York is headed for a collision unless it really goes after the real source of the dollars that we need to plug the gaping holes in our budget -- those miscreants on Wall Street. Somehow they have become sacred cows. Somehow, because they are the "big dogs" they are getting a pass, while focus is on the small fish who have little to no clout.
The phrase HELP MAIN STREET, NOT WALL STREET, needs to have a corollary: PUNISH WALL STREET, NOT MAIN STREET. Jesse Jackson once that you have to get the money back from where the money went. Well that's where the money, the ancillary jobs, the industries, etc. went. Our families should not have to bear the brunt of this issue.
So let's stand up to Wall Street and their threats, and make them pay restitution to New York for having put us in the middle of this madness to begin with. Our children, regardless of who their caregivers are, deserve the benefit of knowing that their legislators are on their side and supportive of their living, growing and thriving in a state that cares about them and their families.
Below is the article I received from AARP:
Across New York State, approximately 400,000 children are being raised in kinship families, by grandparents and other relatives. These families are not part of the formal foster care system. They are our traditional, timeless “child welfare” system.
Family members care for children when parents are unable to do so for many reasons. In fact, most children in informal kinship care would be in foster care were it not for grandparents and other relatives. Numerous studies have found that children living in kinship families have better outcomes than children in foster care. The average total cost of placing a child in the foster care system is $46,000. It saves the state money to keep children in the informal kinship system and not place them in an expensive foster care system.
Programs that help these caregivers are now being threatened by the proposed state budget. These programs are not only effective, they save money for the state and its localities. Please click here to learn more and send a message to your legislators urging them to protect these caregivers and the children they support.
I lifted this from the letter I received from AARP. Not having all the computer skills to repro it the way I received it, however, means that you are receiving only the text, as opposed to text and graphics. However rudimentary it may appear, the contents are the same. So please, cut, paste and complete the form and send it to your New York State Assembly member and your senator. Wouldn't hurt to write Governor Paterson a letter as well.
Kincare Programs Could Save the State $46,000 per Child
AARP strongly recommends that the Legislature restore the $2 million in funding to OCFS and the 10% that was cut from the Navigator program. This money will go a long way to helping thousands of Kincare families. It will also save the State money, and, very importantly, it will produce better outcomes for children.
Please fill out the fields below and send a message to your legislators today!
* Name of Your State Representative or Representatives
Your Contact Information:
* First Name:
* Last Name:
* Your Email:
* Address 1:
* State / Province:
* ZIP / Postal Code:
REJECT CUTS TO KINCARE PROGRAMS:
Dear [Decision Maker],
As a constituent, I am extremely concerned with the Governor's proposal to severely cut funding to Kincare programs in New York State. These programs provide case management, respite, support groups, advocacy and legal assistance. They are the only support for more than 350,000 children in private kinship arrangements. I am writing to ask you to reject the Governor's proposed $2 million in funding to OCFS and the 10% that was cut from the Navigator Program in the 2010-2011 Executive Budget.
These programs are not only effective, they save money for the state and its localities. In New York, the average cost of a child in non-specialized foster care is on average $46,000. The average cost of kinship programs is approximately $500 per child. The total cost of all of the state's kinship programs is less than the cost for just 136 children in foster care.
In addition to cost implications, there are numerous studies showing that children raised by family members live in safer and more stable homes than children in the care of non-relatives. A recent study, published in the June 2008, Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, found that children living in kinship families have better outcomes than children in foster care.
I urge you to reject these cuts and fully restore this critical funding which helps thousands of New York families, saves the state money in more expensive foster care, and achieves better outcomes for children.
Please keep me posted on your efforts to protect grandparents and other relatives raising children in New York State.
[City, State ZIP]
Now if you complete this, you can email it to AARP and they will direct it to your legislator. Or you can go online to AARP and download the actual petition letter and it will reach your representative. Regardless of what you decide to do, you need to do it ASAP. Rudimentary is better than nothing.
Naturally, I signed the petition and it will be presented to my Assemblymember this morning. In the interim, I hope that when you receive it, you will do the same. We are not just in a battle for money and finances, there is a balance being struck here for ethics, decency and moral purpose.
Stay Blessed &