-  This bill is not active in this session.

A07554 Summary:

COSPNSRJaffee, Harris, Fahy, Jean-Pierre
Amd §§458-a & 458-b, Soc Serv L
Clarifies the definition of "prospective relative guardian" for purposes of subsidized kinship guardianship assistance.
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A07554 Actions:

05/02/2017referred to children and families
05/18/2017advanced to third reading cal.468
06/13/2017amended on third reading 7554a
06/19/2017substituted by s4833a
 06/19/2017PASSED SENATE
 06/19/2017referred to children and families
 06/19/2017substituted for a7554a
 06/19/2017ordered to third reading cal.468
 06/20/2017passed assembly
 06/20/2017returned to senate
 10/23/2017SIGNED CHAP.384
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A07554 Committee Votes:

CHILDREN AND FAMILIES Chair:Jaffee DATE:05/16/2017AYE/NAY:14/0 Action: Favorable

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A07554 Floor Votes:

There are no votes for this bill in this legislative session.
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A07554 Memo:

submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
  TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the social services law, in relation to eligibility of children for subsidized kinship guardianship assist- ance to expedite permanency for foster children before the family court This is one in a series of measures being introduced at the request of the Chief Administrative Judge upon the recommendation of his Family Court Advisory and Rules Committee. The enactment of the subsidized kinship guardianship assistance program ("KinGAP") in 2010 marked a milestone in adding a valuable permanency alternative to the menu of options available to expedite the exodus of children from foster care into permanent families. Experience with the program, especially in New York City where it is frequently utilized, has demonstrated its enormous value, not only for the children and fami- lies who are its beneficiaries, but also for the State in its constant quest to improve its record in achieving timely permanency for the chil- dren in its care. And the need for improvement cannot be overstated. Both the second and third "Child and Family Service Reviews (CFSR's)," conducted by the Administration for Children and Families of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in 2008 and 2015, respectively, concluded that New York's score ranked among the lowest in the nation and demonstrated how far the State needs to progress in order to achieve Federal time to permanency targets. This measure would enhance the reach and efficacy of this cost-effective, valuable perman- ency option. First, the measures makes two changes to fill significant gaps in the definition of individuals eligible to be appointed as kinship guardians of children in foster care. It would amend the definition of "prospec- tive relative guardian" in subdivision three of section 458-a of the Social Services Law to include prospective guardians who are related to only one of a sibling group, thereby allowing sibling groups to continue to be placed together. Thus, the half-sibling of a child could be placed with that child's prospective kinship guardian even though the half-si- bling is not related by blood, marriage or adoption to the prospective guardian. Further, it would add as prospective guardians those "with a positive relationship with the child, including, but not limited to, a step-parent, godparent, neighbor or family friend." Both of these chang- es are consistent with practices and definitions used for foster care, thus allowing continuity of care by authorizing a permanency option consistent with children's prior placements and, importantly, preventing the breakup of sibling groups. Under Federal law and under section 458-a of the Social Services Law, in fact, a prospective guardian must have cared for a child for six months as a foster parent, underscoring the importance of utilizing consistent definitions. Similar to this measure, regulations of the State Office of Children and Family. Services define prospective kinship foster parents to include, but not be limited to, "a child's godparent, neighbor, family friend or an adult with a positive relationship with the child." See 18 NYCRR § 443.7(a)(2). Both of these changes are clearly permissible and thus reimbursable under Federal law, since the law authorizing KinGAP specifically deleg- ates to the states the authority to define prospective guardian relationships and does not use the term "relative" or "kinship." See Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (Public Law 110-351; 42 U.S.C. § 675(7)).* The Federal Act specifically authorizes states to include half- siblings who may not be related to the prospective guardian,-a feature explicitly contained in the laws of the following eight states: Idaho, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Wisconsin. Current New York law, in limiting prospective guardians to those who are related by blood, adoption or marriage, uses a far narrower definition than that which is used in the vast majority of states that receive federal guardianship assistance. As of 2015, the following 31 jurisdictions utilized a more expansive definition that includes "fictive kin," many of which utilize factors similar to the instant measure: Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Among states not including "fictive kin," some nonetheless utilize a definition broader than that used in New York; Illinois, for example, includes god-parents and step- relatives and spouses of relatives and step-relatives, while Michigan includes putative fathers. Second, this measure would rectify an anomaly in section 458-a of the Social Services Law, i.e., that continued KinGAP assistance under current law is only available beyond the age of 18 if the Guardianship Assistance Agreement did not commence until the child was already 16 years of age or older. This means that a child 14 or 15 (or younger), who may want to go to college or participate in a vocational program while living in the guardian's home, would be foreclosed from a perman- ency option that may be the best, and often the only, option available. Such children are faced with an untenable choice: to delay permanency until they reach the age of 16 (thus costing the State and county continued foster care assistance), to limit the assistance available only until they age out at 18, or to sacrifice the kinship guardianship permanency option altogether. The original justification for the age limitation was that Federal reimbursement for extended KinGAP assistance is only available for youth whose KinGAP agreement commenced on or after their 16th birthdays, pursuant to 42 U.S. § 675(8)(B)(i)(III). However, even if Federal reimbursement is foreclosed for a limited number of youth, it would clearly be cost-effective to make the KinGAP permanency option available to the youth in order to expedite permanency for them and permit their exit from foster care. In fact, Bryan Samuels, former Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the Federal agency charged with oversight over State KinGAP programs, cautioned that a state policy restricting KinGAP to children over a certain age "may not serve an individual child's best interests." For these reasons, the instant measure would eliminate the age restriction. Significantly, each of the modifications to the KinGAP statute contained in this measure is recommended in the New York City Administration for Children's Services' Foster Care Strategic Blueprint Implementation Status Report, dated June, 2016, at page 4. Over 300 foster children in New York City were able to exit foster care via KinGAP in Fiscal Year 2016,** an increase from 119 in Fiscal Year 2013, but a significantly larger number will be able to do so if this measure is enacted. Adding needed flexibility to the KinGAP program will also make it more usable for counties outside New York City, thus providing an important option to expedite permanency for children in foster care throughout the State. This measure, which would have no fiscal impact upon the State, shall take effect 60 days after the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services has approved a Title IV-E State Plan Amendment for federally reimbursable expenditures.   2017 LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: Senate 4833 (Sen. Avella) (ordered to 3rd Rdg., Cal. 1550) Assembly 7554 (M. of A. Hevesi) (advanced to 3rd Rdg., Cal. 468) *The statute neither defines kinship nor requires states to do so, as states are free to define prospective guardians, for example, as in the instant measure, that is, including individuals with a positive relationship with the child, such as god-parents or friends. See "Sample State Legislation Needed to Implement the Federal Kinship Guardianship Assistance Option Under Title IV-E of the Social Security Act (Chil- dren's Defense Fund., Jan. 26, 2010). **See Mayor's Management Report 187 (New York City Mayor's Office, Sept., 2016)   available at: http://wwwl.nyc.gov/assets/operations/dovvnloads/pdf/mrar2016/2016_mm r.pdf-.
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A07554 Text:

                STATE OF NEW YORK
                                                                Cal. No. 468
                               2017-2018 Regular Sessions
                   IN ASSEMBLY
                                       May 2, 2017
        Introduced  by  M.  of A. HEVESI, JAFFEE, HARRIS, FAHY -- (at request of
          the Office of Court Administration) -- read once and referred  to  the
          Committee  on  Children  and  Families  --  reported  from  committee,
          advanced to a third reading, amended and ordered reprinted,  retaining
          its place on the order of third reading
        AN  ACT  to amend the social services law, in relation to eligibility of
          children for subsidized kinship guardianship  assistance  to  expedite
          permanency for foster children before the family court
          The  People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem-
        bly, do enact as follows:
     1    Section 1. Subdivision 3 of section 458-a of the social services  law,
     2  as  added  by  section 4 of part F of chapter 58 of the laws of 2010, is
     3  amended to read as follows:
     4    3. "Prospective relative guardian" shall mean a  person  [or  persons]
     5  who  [is  related to the child through blood, marriage, or adoption who]
     6  has been caring for the child as a fully certified  or  approved  foster
     7  parent for at least six consecutive months prior to applying for kinship
     8  guardianship assistance payments and who:
     9    (a) is related to the child through blood, marriage, or adoption; or
    10    (b)  is related to a half-sibling of the child through blood, marriage
    11  or adoption and where such person or persons is or are also the prospec-
    12  tive or appointed relative guardian or guardians of  such  half-sibling;
    13  or
    14    (c)  is  an adult with a positive relationship with the child, includ-
    15  ing, but not limited to, a step-parent, godparent,  neighbor  or  family
    16  friend.
    17    §  2.  Paragraph  (a)  of subdivision 7 of section 458-b of the social
    18  services law, as added by section 4 of part F of chapter 58 of the  laws
    19  of 2010, is amended to read as follows:
    20    (a)  Kinship  guardianship  assistance  payments  shall be made to the
    21  relative guardian or guardians until  the  child's  eighteenth  birthday
         EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                              [ ] is old law to be omitted.

        A. 7554--A                          2
     1  or[, if the child had attained sixteen years of age before the agreement
     2  became  effective,]  until  the  child  attains  twenty-one years of age
     3  provided the child consented upon attaining the age of eighteen and  is:
     4  (i) completing secondary education or a program leading to an equivalent
     5  credential;  (ii)  enrolled in an institution which provides post-secon-
     6  dary or vocational education; (iii) employed for at least  eighty  hours
     7  per  month;  (iv)  participating  in  a  program or activity designed to
     8  promote, or remove barriers to, employment; or (v) incapable of  any  of
     9  such  activities  due  to  a  medical  condition,  which incapability is
    10  supported by regularly updated information  in  the  case  plan  of  the
    11  child.
    12    § 3. This act shall take effect immediately; provided however that:
    13    (a)  the  state  title  IV-E  agency shall submit to the United States
    14  Department of Health and Human Services,  Administration  for  Children,
    15  Youth  and  Families,  an  amendment  to the state title IV-E state plan
    16  regarding the provisions of this act;
    17    (b) notwithstanding any other provision of law,  this  act  shall  not
    18  take  effect  until sixty days following the date that the United States
    19  Department of Health and Human Services,  Administration  for  Children,
    20  Youth  and Families approves a title IV-E state plan amendment regarding
    21  the provisions of this act that are eligible for title  IV-E  reimburse-
    22  ment;
    23    (c) the office of children and family services shall notify the legis-
    24  lative  bill  drafting commission upon the occurrence of the approval of
    25  the amended plan pursuant to subdivision (b) of this  section  in  order
    26  that  the  commission may maintain an accurate and timely effective data
    27  base of the official text of the laws of the state of New York in furth-
    28  erance of effectuating the provisions of section 44 of  the  legislative
    29  law and section 70-b of the public officers law; and
    30    (d) the addition, amendment or repeal of any rule or regulation neces-
    31  sary  for  the  implementation  of  the  kinship guardianship assistance
    32  program as authorized under this act on its effective date is authorized
    33  to be made and completed on or before such effective date.
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A07554 LFIN:

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