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THE NEW YORK STATE OFFICE OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES ANNOUNCES ADOPTION OF HOST FAMILY HOME REGULATIONS

Bold, New Initiative Will Support Families Without Involving the Child Welfare System

The New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) today announced the adoption of new state regulations to allow Host Family Homes for people who need temporary help caring for their children. This primary prevention program aligns with OCFS’s commitment to Family First Prevention Services Act principles and advances the agency’s race equity agenda, as families of color are disproportionately represented in the child welfare system and often become involved due to a lack of adequate supports and access to resources. The model – currently in practice in 33 states – supports families in need while providing safety for children through background checks and monitoring of the Host Family Home.

“Host Family Homes support families who need temporary help caring for children during a surgery, illness or death in the family or other temporary family crisis,” said OCFS Commissioner Sheila J. Poole. “The model is based upon the fundamental truth that there are wonderful families in communities throughout our state willing to support their neighbors who do not have friends or relatives who can safely care for their children in an emergency. Parents will now have a reliable place to seek temporary care of their children when they need it without fear of unnecessary child welfare involvement.”

Host Family Homes are community resources that want to help parents facing difficult challenges and that have the capacity to assist. They will be administered by Host Family Agencies and approved by OCFS. The agencies will recruit and train volunteer families statewide, and they will be fully trained and vetted with background checks. The program is completely voluntary, and host families do not receive monetary compensation.

“Parents never lose custody of their children in Host Family Homes. They retain unfettered access and rights to their child, can communicate with their child at any time and can bring their children home at any time,” said OCFS Deputy Commissioner for Child Welfare and Community Services Lisa Ghartey Ogundimu. “Parents choose who will temporarily care for their child or children and continue to make decisions regarding their care throughout their stay.”

Parents authorize host families to care for their child, and the families are responsible for maintaining the child’s education, cultural and religious practices. Children can remain with host families for up to six months if needed.

Agencies interested in becoming Host Family Agencies should check for information at https://ocfs.ny.gov/programs/cwcs/. All approved agencies will be subject to OCFS review and oversight to monitor compliance with regulatory policies and procedures.