Frequently Asked Questions about Foster Care
Tell me about HFY and what some of the programs that you have are. What is your mission, vision, etc.
Hope For Youth’s mission is to facilitate positive change in the lives of children, adolescents and families. We accomplish this through an interdisciplinary systemic approach spanning a continuum of care centered on programs that educate, motivate and empower individuals toward self-sufficiency. Our programs ensure the most effective treatment is being provided, treatment that addresses the complex set of challenges inherent with children in the welfare and juvenile justice populations.
Hope For Youth (HFY) was founded in 1969 by Judge Golding in response to the lack of and overwhelming need for viable community-based options for children and youth in the child welfare system. HFY began as a group home provider in partnership with the Nassau and Suffolk County Departments of Social Services and Probation and the New York State Office of Mental Health, and remains relevant to the complex and diverse needs of today’s most vulnerable children, youth and their families.
In the last 15 years, Hope For Youths scope of services has expanded and diversified in response to community feedback and local and national initiatives reaching children/ youth at critical junctures in their lives. Known as the go-to-agency for challenging cases, HFY has expanded and today operates several rigorous and results-driven programs that impact the lives of over 800 local children/ youth and families annually, they are as follows
- Diagnostic and Emergency Group Home (1999) – provides Diagnostic, Emergency, and Respite residential services for children and youth for the purposes of stabilization, evaluation and overall treatment planning to facilitate a return home with services or to identify an appropriate level of follow-up care.
- Family Ties – (2001) – provides a safe and supportive environment to keep large sibling groups together after removal by Child Protective Services with the goal for reunification with biological parents or relatives.
- Non Secure Detention (2001) – provides temporary short-term services in a stabilizing, supportive, and therapeutic setting for JD and PINS youth pursuant to Articles Three and Seven of the New York State Family Court Act.
- Intensive Case Management ~ Suffolk County (2003) – provides targeted services to prevent the placement into foster care and/or residential. We stabilize the child in their home by working with the family to increase their knowledge, skills and resources within their home, community and school.
- Multi-Dimensional Family Therapy (2008) – provides an intensive family-based therapeutic approach to treat adolescents and prevent out-of-home placement.
- Community Reinvestment Program (2011) and Supervision and Treatment Program (2014) – provides clinical intervention and intensive case management for youth referred by Suffolk County Probation in specific high need communities to prevent and divert from the juvenile detention system. These programs provide drug treatment using the evidence based model of MDFT.
- Adjustment Services Program (2014)– provides restorative conferences to assist the probation department to resolve disputes voluntarily and informally without petitions being heard by the court. The intent of this program is to divert cases by holding restorative conferences between youthful offenders and others involved in the case
- Runaway Shelter Program– provides a safe, supportive and secure environment for all Suffolk County youth between the ages of 12 and 21 who find themselves in crisis and are in need of a haven. The program provides residential and support services to all residents 24 hours per day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year for up to 30 days in accordance with the Runaway and Homeless Youth Regulations. While youth are with us they are provided with safe shelter, case management services, individual and family counseling, transportation, food, clothing, educational assistance and advocacy, medical care coordination and referrals, living skills development and other essential services.
- Group Homes: Hope For Youth has four community-based residential therapeutic group homes located in Babylon-Family Ties, Farmingdale-Sibling Reunification, Bellmore-Girls and Seaford-Boys. We have changed the programs over the years to adapt to the needs of the community. Youth are placed in our group homes for various reasons including unstable living conditions, neglect and abuse by their caretaker as well as getting in trouble with the law through a variety of minor offences. Upon entering our group homes, all youth are given a full medical exams and they receive ongoing medical care. All youth participate in our regular individual, group and family therapy programs to address substance abuse and anger management
What are some of the challenges that your program has? How difficult is it for someone to get adopted or placed in a foster home?
Wendy’s Wonderful Kids is an adoption program through the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. They have implemented a child focused recruitment model that focuses on the youth in care to find them a forever home. This program specifically targets young people who are in the foster care system, who are legally freed for adoption, and who are a “hard to place” age, have disabilities, have been in the system for a long time, have had previous failed adoptions, and kids who are in danger of ageing out of foster care. The goal of the Wendy’s program is to “not let any child age out of foster care alone”, getting adopted can be a long process for there are many steps that have to be followed, which is why it is important to have a strong support system, for both the child and the family.
As a recruiter, I work individually with the youth in care to find out what they want from a family, what they want their future to look like, and to educate them about why it is important not to age out of foster care alone. Recruiters are supposed to carry a small case load, about 12-15 children, in order to give them one on one personal attention, I currently have… cases. It is my job to get to know the children personally and to do a diligent search to find them a forever home.
Recently HFY was awarded a grant from the Dave Thomas Foundation called Wendy’s Wonderful Kids. This program specifically targets young people who are in the foster care system, legally freed for adoption but who are “hard to place” age, disabilities, time in care, previous failed adoptions, kids who are in danger of ageing our of foster care… Wendy’s implements a child focused recruitment model that caters specifically to the needs of the individual child, and the goal is to find them a permanent family who will stay with them even after they leave foster care. The goal of the Wendy’s program is “not let any child age out of foster care alone”…. etc. it can be a long process to get adopted there are many steps that have to be followed before the adoption day, that’s why you want to have a strong support system on your side, for both the child and the family.
Why do you think families are so hesitant to becoming a foster or adoptive family?
Foster and adoption are huge lifelong commitments for families. If you want to become a foster or adoptive parent you have to think long and hard about the commitment you are making to a young person who is going to come into your life. People also might be naive to the process and what steps are involved, information is key, coming to a foster care orientation class would be very beneficial.
What do you think the biggest challenge facing these families is? What’s causing for so many of these families to be in need?
There are about 20,000 children currently in the foster care system in New York, and the heroin epidemic is causing so many problems for so many young people. This is part of the reason we have initiated the #kidscantwait campaign. We are seeing so many young children come into care with drug addicted parents.
Why do you think people aren’t adopting?
I think people don’t realize the need for foster care and adoption. They also might not understand the process or it could seem intimidating, that’s why coming to a place like HFY would be beneficial, you would have a team of people who will guide and support you through the process. Beginning in 2018 we will start a foster parent support group where new foster parents will be matched with existing foster parents who will act as mentors.