National Foster Care Month Spotlight: Karriem

Karriem, a client of our Prevention and Family Support Flushing program, reads to his children during National Foster Care Month.

Karriem, a client of our Prevention and Family Support Flushing program, reads to his children during National Foster Care Month.May is National Foster Care Month, an observance that has special meaning at The Child Center of NY. The Child Center operates four Prevention and Family Support programs for families with children at risk of abuse, neglect, or foster care placement, or who simply need help with parenting challenges. The hardworking employees in these programs work tirelessly and holistically to give parents and other caregivers the tools, support, and confidence to raise their children in a safe and nurturing environment—now and in the future.

One of these parents, whose case was successfully closed last month due to achievement of goals, is Karriem.

When Karriem was released from prison a couple of years ago and his children’s mother passed away, Karriem knew he needed help. His children were in foster care, and Karriem committed to regaining custody. The NYC Administration for Children’s Services referred Karriem to our Flushing Prevention program.

The Flushing Prevention team provided Karriem with tailored parenting guidance and connected him with services, including therapy for his children at our Macari Family Wellness Center. The team also helped Karriem find a nearby afterschool program for his children and procure necessities such as winter jackets. Our Benefits Access program has assisted with issues like disability benefits.

Today, Karriem’s children have no doubt they are well cared for and deeply loved. Three out of our four Prevention programs had a 100% rate of preventing out-of-home placement in 2022, helping hundreds of families like Karriem’s stay safe and together.

While we are proud of these programs, we sadly must report that three of our Prevention programs will close at the end of June. To continue operating them at the contracted rate would cause The Child Center to incur a $1.1 million loss over the next three years and would preclude our ability to pay our employees a livable wage with a fair cost-of-living adjustment. This is a result of both the difficulty faced by the City in allocating resources at this challenging economic moment, and the fair contract we are obligated to honor for our dedicated employees. Given these circumstances, our only option was to close these programs and work to place these individuals in other vacant positions at The Child Center.

This is why private dollars are so important to the sustainability of our work. We are deeply grateful for private supporters who make our extraordinary outcomes possible.

We will keep advocating for fair cost-of-living increases for our human services workers so that we can offer the services our communities need and deserve while offering the people who provide them the fair and livable wage they deserve. To learn more about these advocacy efforts, please visit the #JustPay Campaign website, reach out to elected officials, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, where we post frequently about ways to support our Prevention teams and other human services workers. These skilled and profoundly dedicated individuals change lives like Karriem’s and his children’s each and every day. We are proud to take this opportunity during National Foster Care Month to shine a spotlight on their contributions and how we can best honor them.

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