A legislative Column by Assemblyman Will Barclay
November is National Adoption Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness about the need for families to adopt children in foster care.
Nearly 40 percent of American adults, or 81.5 million people, have considered adopting a child, according to the National Adoption Attitudes Survey.
It’s estimated that if just 1 in 500 of these adults adopted from foster care, every child in foster care would have a permanent family.
Unfortunately the gap to reach this milestone is still wide and statistics indicate that nearly 30,000 children nationwide age out of the foster care system without a family to call their own.
There are many amazing and successful adoption stories and there are many agencies dedicated to finding the right home for children.
In New York state alone, the New York State Office of Children and Family Services states there are more than 130 agencies in the state dedicated to finding homes for foster children.
Each of New York’s 58 social services districts has an adoption unit, and more than 70 authorized voluntary agencies statewide work with families interested in adopting foster children.
New York State continues to be a leader in finding permanent, safe, and nurturing homes for our children.
The number of children in foster care in New York State has decreased from 53,902 children at the end of 1995 to 18,488 at the end of 2014, a significant reversal of trends in the 1980s and early 1990s, according to NYSOCFS.
I enjoy hearing the stories of children finding a forever home.
One event in particular takes place in Syracuse each year on Nov. 21, National Adoption Day.
The local event is part of a collective national effort to raise awareness of the more than 100,000 children in foster care waiting to find permanent, loving families.
A coalition of partners, Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, The Alliance for Children’s Rights and Children’s Action Network – sponsor National Adoption Day.
In Syracuse, the event at the OnCenter is used as a time to finalize and celebrate adoptions that have transpired throughout the past year.
Local judges sign necessary paperwork and families are generally elated to have the day to celebrate and legalize their relationships with their children.
NYSOCFS maintains a photo album which features children who are eligible for foster care and adoption.
The state only manages the adoption of children who enter into the foster care system.
Private adoptions are managed through several private or non-profit agencies.
Anyone who is considering adoption of a foster child can view pictures and ages of the children on the NYSOCFS website.
Nearly half of the children are between the ages of 6-18 and nearly one-third of the children in New York are between the ages of 14-17.
If you are considering adoption, foster care enables families and the adoptee to learn about each other and hopefully grow toward adoption.
In fact, in 2014, 2,008 children were discharged from local Social Service districts to adoptions in the state.
The guidebook titled “Adopting a Child From Foster Care in New York State” provides a good framework to understanding foster care and adoption, http://on.ny.gov/1MGwc4A.
The photo album of children and many other resources about adoption can be found at http://ocfs.ny.gov/adopt/
There’s a link to frequently asked questions as well as the album of children who are eligible for adoption.
There are also tax questions answered and subsidy information available.
Locally, the Syracuse Regional Office of Child and Family Services oversees some aspects of adoptions of foster children for residents in Broome, Cayuga, Chenango, Cortland, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, Oswego, St. Lawrence, Tioga and Tompkins counties.
That office is located in the Atrium, 100 S. Salina St., Suite 350, Syracuse, NY 13202.
They can be reached at (315) 423-1200.
There is also a general information available at 1-800-345-KIDS or requested at [email protected]
If you have any questions or comments or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185.