Funding announcement coincides with Adoption Awareness Month; event featuring Darryl ‘DMC’ McDaniel and NYS Operations Director Kathryn Garcia
√ New social media campaign #BeTheChangeNY designed to boost awareness of adoption services to support children & families
Gov. Kathy Hochul announced $4.7 million in federal funding to support a range of adoption-related services administered through the state Office of Children and Family Services.
The funding announcement came at the start of Adoption Awareness Month and an event featuring state Operations Director Kathryn Garcia and founding member of the legendary hip-hop group Run-DMC, Darryl "DMC" McDaniels – both of whom were adopted as children and are now advocates for adoption and children in foster care.
"There is no overstating the positive impact and crucial role that a loving, supportive household can have on a child's life," Hochul said. "Kathryn and Darryl's stories are just two out of thousands that showcase the amazing work done throughout New York state to help children seeking adoption. This funding, along with our continued investments, will help unite even more children with stable, loving families, and a place they can call home once and for all."
"Every child has the right to a stable and secure home environment. As a former member of Congress, I have fought for the rights of children and families across New York and the nation, and I continue to do so as lieutenant governor," said Antonio Delgado, who attended the event at the Albany Capital Center. "I am proud to be part of an administration that is investing in programs that protect children in foster care, increase adoptions and guardianships, and provide critical trainings, supports and services for children and families as they embark on their adoption journey."
Hochul’s team explained that, this fall, New York state received a $4.7 million adoption and guardianship federal incentive grant. OCFS will use this funding to recruit adoptive homes, for training or conferences to improve adoption casework, and a range of adoption-related child welfare services including, but not limited to:
√ Heart Gallery New York, a collaboration with Heart Gallery NYC, that established five galleries featuring images of 57 children in foster care awaiting permanent homes. The galleries are to raise awareness of New York's waiting children, engage the community in their welfare, and secure them permanent homes.
√ Adoption Album, a service that provides a list of children freed for adoption that can be searched by gender, age and sibling group. The album provides the name and contact information for the local district to learn more about the adoption process.
√ Wendy's Wonderful Kids, a program that provides support to local social services departments for recruiting adoptive families. This support includes helping these departments hire adoption specialists dedicated to finding permanent families for children in foster care who are most often overlooked.
The funding builds on New York's $5 million investment toward 16 regional permanency resource centers. These centers provide both pre- and postadoption services and supports for children and families statewide.
Garcia said, "Nearly 700 children in foster care are still actively waiting for an adoptive family. When I think about my own adoption story, it's clear that everybody needs a forever family to nurture and support them. Finding forever homes starts with adoption education, and providing the resources to make sure families that embrace adoption have the tools to stay together and be successful."
In New York, 7,500 children in foster care have been adopted since 2017.
To raise awareness for Adoption Awareness Month, the Office of Children and Family Services is launching the #BeTheChangeNY campaign. This effort aims to encourage New Yorkers to educate themselves on adoption and consider opening their homes to children who are awaiting permanent homes.
The New York State Office of Children and Family Services Commissioner Sheila J. Poole said, "I am honored that New York State Director of Operations Kathryn Garcia and iconic musician Darryl McDaniels shared their lived experience of adoption. Their inspirational stories serve as a reminder that all children deserve a home where they can be loved, honored and appreciated. As we recognize Adoption Awareness Month, it's important to remember that each and every day someone can choose to be the change in a child's life."
McDaniels, a New York native, learned at age 35 that he was placed into foster care and later adopted. He founded the nonprofit Felix Organization, which provides educational and enrichment opportunities for children in foster care, and received the Congressional Angels in Adoption Award for his continued efforts.
He said, "I was fortunate to be adopted. It allowed me to get to where I was supposed to go and become who I was supposed to become. It's the responsibility of everyone to advocate, protect and respect the needs of all the kids in foster care so they can prosper and achieve their dreams regardless of their situations."
Congressman Brian Higgins said, "Adoption and guardianship programs provide a safe and permanent landing for thousands of children each year. This federal investment will not only improve the administrative process associated with adoptions, but also provide resources to better prepare a greater number of families to welcome adopted children. It will make a difference for thousands of kids waiting to be placed permanently with their new families."
The New York State Office of Children and Family Services serves New York's public by promoting the safety, permanency and well-being of children, families and communities. The agency provides a system of family support, juvenile justice, youth development, child care and child welfare services, and is responsible for programs and services involving foster care, adoption and adoption assistance, child protective services, preventive services for children and families, services for pregnant adolescents, and protective programs for vulnerable adults. For more information on how to help or become an adoptive parent, call 1-800-345-KIDS.