ALBANY, N.Y., June 17, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — More than 100,000 New York children being raised by non-parent and non-grandparent relatives would get critical help for a solid family foundation under a bill AARP and the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus are supporting.
The “Relative Caregiver Bill” unanimously passed the State Senate, and AARP and the Caucus are calling for an Assembly vote before the June 19 end of this year’s state legislative session.
When parents are unable to raise their own children, relatives often step in – but many lack the legal authority to make critical decisions for the children. The bill, sponsored by Senator Martin Golden and Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (S2094B/A7189B), would help thousands of aunts, uncles, adult siblings and great-grandparents across New York create a solid life foundation for more than 100,000 children.
One in five African-American children and one in 11 of all children will live with kin during their childhood, according to The Annie E. Casey Foundation.
The bill gives these relatives the same opportunity grandparents have had for 11 years to create more stable homes for kids whose own parents are unable to care for them: seeking guardianship or custody of children who have lived in the caregiver’s home for at least two years straight. Guardianship and custody empower the caregiver to make critical medical, school and other decisions for the children, helping provide a more stable home life.
“I’m proud to support the bill sponsored by Assembly Member Rozic that will strengthen families in New York,” said Assemblyman Karim Camara, chairman of the NYS Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus. “It’s important that when close relatives become the primary caregivers of children that they are allowed to petition the courts to become legal guardians. That children are being raised by uncles, aunts, siblings and cousins is nothing new. This bill will simply allow for more family stability, which we know is so important for children.”
“This bill is all about ensuring that children who may not have been dealt the best hand have a solid foundation on which to build their lives,” said Beth Finkel, State Director for AARP in New York. “AARP thanks Senator Golden and Assemblywoman Rozic, and we urge Speaker Silver to allow a vote before session ends so the bill can go to the Governor.”
“In addition to grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins are kinship caregivers,” said Gerard Wallace, director of the NYS Kinship Navigator. “It makes sense that all these caregivers have the same legal opportunities to provide care. In this instance, affording standing in custody disputes to relatives and not just to grandparents ensures that all their kinship children have a better chance to remain in loving and stable homes.”
U.S. Census Data indicate about 300,000 New York children are raised by their grandparents – but more than 100,000 are being brought up by other relatives.
Organizations representing children, families and the elderly, including the Hispanic Federation, all support the bill, which would not apply in cases where parents were not caring for their children because of domestic violence.
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SOURCE AARP New York