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For over 5,000 New York City children living in the foster care of relatives, the main barrier to a permanent home may be the foster care system itself. A new report by Fostering Results, a national group, found that many states have made significant progress in moving children from foster care into permanent homes through “subsidized guardianship” programs. Legal guardianship, according to the study, is often preferable to adoption because it allows relatives to maintain ties with birth parents. But unlike foster care, guardianship is not federally funded in many states, including New York. As a result, relatives who could become permanent caregivers face “a clear disincentive”—the loss of the federal part of their subsidies. From 1999 to 2001, states providing federal subsidies to relative guardians moved more than 10,000 children into permanent, stable homes, while states without such funding saw an increase in the number of children in foster care long-term. In response to these findings, local advocates have called for expanded federal funding for guardianships. [10/18/04]
This story was corrected on 10/20.