Caring For Children Who Are Not Your Own: The Facts About Kinship Care

There are many complicated societal reasons why more and more family members are finding themselves caring for children who are not theirs. Every family has a story, and no doubt yours is a sensitive one. As a Binghamton family law attorney, I help families make the legal decisions necessary to ensure that their rights - and the rights of the children they care for-are respected under New York law.

What Is Kinship Care?

Kinship caregivers consist of grandparents, other relatives, nonblood relatives such as stepgrandparents and people who decide to assume full-time care of children in their own homes. You may or may not be related by blood, but the fact is that you are fulfilling a critical role for these children.

In New York, kinship providers may take on various legal roles involving custody. These may include anything from informal custody to guardianship and even adoption. The state has specific laws for kinship providers, and these may differ from or even overlap with laws regarding legal visitation, which is generally reserved only for grandparents.

You Have Legal Rights

When you decide to "step up" and care for children in your family who need you, it may seem like a daunting role. That's where I can help. By choosing to provide permanence and stability for minor family members, you are taking on a legal role as a "kinship" provider. As such, you have legal rights and duties just like any other parent. It's my duty to protect those rights.

You may have questions about any of the following roles and responsibilities that come with parenting a child in your care.

  • How do I enroll my child in school?
  • Who provides for their health, wellness and basic needs?
  • What happens when their parents come back? Do I still have rights?

Whatever the reason for it, your choice to be responsible for these children deserves respect and gratitude. The state of New York recognizes that responsibility, which is why there are laws to protect you and the children you care for. I can help you get answers to your questions about kinship care and your rights as a provider.

Learn More About My Practice

When you are faced with the responsibility of being a kinship provider, you will likely need a lawyer. Contact me, Lauren S. Cohen, at 607-821-0100 or 866-539-2596 or by completing an online contact form. From my offices in Johnson City and Binghamton, I work with clients throughout the Southern Tier region of New York.