(This is Director Moira Weir's monthly message to the community).
I am extremely excited about a new program designed to help the hundreds of grandparents, aunts, uncles and other kinship caregivers who take care of children in our custody.
In May, we launched a kinship stipend program and early this month will begin paying kinship families $350 per month, per child if they are caring for children in agency custody.
This is the first time JFS has ever provided a kinship stipend. It helps fulfill a long-desired goal of providing additional support to kinship caregivers. We know from experience and research children are more likely to thrive in the care of someone connected to them. Kinship caregivers - grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins or other relatives and family friends caring for a child in our custody - can also help in keeping the child connected to family, friends, neighborhood and school, and could assist with reunification efforts.
For those who don't know, when children are abused or neglected and can no longer safely stay in their homes, they may come into the care of JFS. In this situation, we try to find the right "placement" for them. Kinship care is always the first choice. Kinship care refers to an arrangement in which a relative, or non-relative adult who has a long-standing relationship or bond with the children and/or family, takes over the full-time care of the children until they can be safely returned to their home.
Absent a suitable kinship caregiver, foster care is the next option. We would much rather place child with someone they know versus a stranger.