Foster Care Services are utilized for families whose children are in need of protection due to abuse or maltreatment by their parents/caretakers or due to a significant child or parent need that requires out of home placement to ensure the safety of the child(ren).
These services support families that may experience a crisis such as hospitalization, incarceration, significant medical, behavioral, or mental health needs of a family member posing a safety issue to the children in the home. When a child is involved within the juvenile justice system due to a child service need such as truancy, incorrigibility or juvenile delinquency, Family Court may order the child placed in the care and custody of the Department of Family and Community Services. These placements may include a congregate care setting or residential treatment center.
The family and agency work jointly to formulate and execute a plan to address the issues that necessitated the placement, ensure safety, and minimize risk. Permanency planning begins on the day of placement, with reunification with parents being the priority goal for children. Discharge to appropriate adult caretakers, custodial arrangements, kinship guardianship, adoption and independent living are also explored as permanency options when reunification with parents is not a viable option.
The first effort for any out of home placement is to diligently search for appropriate kin resources. Kin resources are grandparents, other relatives and family friends who are willing to provide full-time care to a child. Most kinship caregivers are not foster parents and are often identified by either the family experiencing out of home placements or Agency staff working with the family. If this is not possible, placement services are provided through contract agencies and case managed by the Department. The second priority is to place the child(ren) in the least restrictive level of care able to meet the needs of the child(ren). There are various levels of foster care including regular, specialized, and therapeutic family foster care, group home placement or various levels of residential care. Family members are provided with supportive services to address the safety concerns that led to an out of home placement with a goal of family reunification.
Foster Care staff work collaboratively with contract agency staff to ensure the best outcomes for children and families. Contract agencies also recruit and certify family foster homes and/or obtain licenses or certification to operate residential programs through Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS). Per regulation and best practice, it is always the intent to place children in their home community and school if possible and keep siblings together while in care. Working closely with contract agencies optimizes the Department’s ability to meet these needs.
Oneida County Office Building
800 Park Ave.