Family services programs detailed
August 13, 2014 —
Representatives from the Sullivan County Division of Family Services (DFS) appeared at a meeting at the government center on August 7, and gave detailed reports about some of the division’s programs and operations.
DFS commissioner Randy Parker said the monthly caseload for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families is 412, which he said is the lowest number in the last 30 months. He said the caseload for Safety Net, which services individuals or families who have received assistance for more than 60 months, is also at its lowest level over the last 30 months.
On the other hand, he said applications for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly called food stamps) continue to be higher than they have been in the past couple of years.
Parker also said the county is in need of people who can become foster parents and adoptive parents. He said the number of children in county custody includes about 50 who have been in county custody for two or three years, and the number of children available for adoption is higher that it has been in the past.
He said DFS has adopted a policy of working to try to return a child in county custody to the mother and father, but also focusing on permanency. He said the earliest a termination proceeding for a child can be started is after the child has been in custody 12 months, but if the parent abandons the child, does not contact the county and shows no interest in it, an abandonment proceeding can be initiated earlier than the 12 months.
He said “There are three siblings eight, 10 and 12 years old, that eventually may become free for adoption… We need adoptive homes, just as we need foster homes. When people ask, ‘how do I go about adopting a child in New York State?’ — if you are a foster parent, or a foster-to-adopt parent, that probably is going to increase the likelihood that you’re going to end up in an adoption situation with a child.”
Giselle Steketee, the director of temporary assistance, spoke after Parker. She said 267 people had applied for temporary housing between August 2013 and July 2014. Of those, 85 individuals left the program because they gained permanent housing. At the other end of the outcomes spectrum, 85 left the program because they failed to comply with some of the regulations.
For 19 people, the reason for leaving was that they were incarcerated; six went into rehab; and 29 people had too much income to qualify.