In February, Governor Pataki signed into law a new bill giving relatives who care for their kin the authority to make health care and school-related decisions. The Caregiver Consent bill, introduced by Senator Kenneth LaValle and Assemblymember Thomas DiNapoli, will allow caregivers to sign paperwork enabling their children to participate in special programs and field trips, and to receive health screenings, diagnoses and treatments. “Passage of this very crucial legislation will remove unnecessary barriers grandparents and other caregivers experience in providing day-to-day care for children,” says Fatima Goldman, executive director of the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies. More than 143,000 grandparents and other relatives care for more than 400,000 children in New York, while across the country approximately 6 million children are living with their caregivers. The law goes into effect in May.