Pictured, top, Catholic Charities’ Kinship Caregiver Program families in Cattaraugus County gather for a summer picnic in 2019. The program is expanding into Allegany County, with COVID-19 compliant events such as this for kinship care families. (Bottom) A sampling of the thank-you notes written by children in the Kinship Caregiver Program in Cattaraugus County during the YMCA of the Twin Tiers’ 2020 YCamp in August. The notes were given to caregivers in recognition of September as National Kinship Care Month.
In recognition of September as National Kinship Care Month, Catholic Charities of Buffalo announces the receipt of a New York State Office of Child and Family Services grant in the amount of $450,000. The three-year grant will enable Catholic Charities to expand its Kinship Caregiver Program from Cattaraugus County to Allegany County.
Kinship care refers to caregiver grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, adult siblings and even family friends who provide full-time nurturing and protection of children when they have been separated from their biological parents. Across the nation, approximately 2.7 million grandparents and 1.4 million other relatives are providing kinship care
For each of the three years, the funding will provide $150,000 annually and, in partnership with the YMCA of the Twin Tiers and ElderLaw, will support kinship care programming and services for 30 children and 25 families in Allegany County.
“Catholic Charities is grateful to be awarded this New York State grant to allow us to extend this much needed program to Allegany County families,” said Anne Miles, LCSW, district director for Catholic Charities Cattaraugus and Allegany counties. “We are fortunate to have Danielle back as a coordinator for these services; she brings her talent and is so knowledgeable about services and referrals for our families.
Danielle Kielar, Catholic Charities Kinship Caregiver Program social worker, said, “I am grateful to be working again with these families. Seeing them connect with one another for support – to show the kids and families that they aren't alone and that there are many people going through similar situations – builds my enthusiasm.”
“I look forward to making a difference for families in Allegany County now,” said Kielar. “Being able to support youth and kinship families in a second county is a dream come true.”
The Kinship Caregiver Program has five components: Case management and referral services; separate support groups for caregivers and children; legal education sessions for caregivers; family engagement activities, and maintenance and family preservation services which include monthly respite for the children.
Most activities – following the Centers for Disease Control guidelines on masks and social distancing – will be held at the Wellsville YMCA, 67 Pearl St., Wellsville, but may also be held at alternate locations in the county, Kielar said.
Over the past decade, Catholic Charities has provided Kinship Caregiver Program services for Cattaraugus County residents in collaboration with and financial support from the Cattaraugus County Department of Social Services, the Burt Foundation, the Health Foundation for Western & Central New York, the Brookdale Foundation and the YMCA of the Twin Tiers.
Catholic Charities has provided Kinship Caregiver Program services in Cattaraugus County throughout the COVID-19 pandemic by adjusting its format. Facilitated by Jennifer Norton, Catholic Charities coordinator, meetings were conducted remotely using online platforms. Norton also helped students obtain tablets for virtual education and ongoing contact with their teachers. In August, through the YMCA YCamp Program, a youth group for children in kinship care was established and offered another option to share experiences and similar family situations.
For information about the Kinship Caregiver Program in Allegany County, contact Danielle Kielar and for information about the Cattaraugus County Program contact Jennifer Norton, both at 716-372-0101, or visit our website ccwny.org/kinship.