Community childcare should be welcomed

A mother in the hospital ready to give birth has no one to keep her 3-year-old child. A parent postpones a planned operation because they have no one to watch their children while they recover. A 5-year-old’s mom needs a mental break after her parents die. A grandmother raising 3-year-old twins is hospitalized with pneumonia and needs someone to take care of the twins. The father of six has one child who needs a bone marrow transplant and wants to stay a few nights with his hospitalized child.

These parents have nowhere to turn. They have no family or friends to call for help. They don’t have the means to pay for nighttime childcare. What should these parents do?

in New York State Office for Children and Family Services approved regulations that provide these parents with a free community response. It’s called “hosting”.

Hosting allows you to thoroughly check community members to volunteer to provide short-term childcare in their home for parents who have no other option. These community members and their homes are rigorously screened to ensure the host children are safe and well cared for. Members of the volunteer community receive no remuneration or stipend for providing this service. They are just good neighbors who want to support New York families.

A group of law firms that represent children sued in Rensselaer CountyThey argue that these regulations are unnecessary, arguing that parents already have a viable option in New York: voluntarily placing their children in foster care. Law firms argue that children need legal representation and supervision by the courts simply because their families do not have viable childcare options.

I challenge law firms to find even one child who would prefer foster care to being in a community member’s home. At home, the parent has chosen where he can visit at any time. A home where parents can pick them up at any time. Find one child who would rather talk to a lawyer than have their parent make child care decisions on their behalf. A parent who makes all decisions on their behalf because they love them and know what is best for them.

The child in these scenarios does not need legal representation or court involvement. They need childcare. They need a community to surround them with support when their mom gives birth or when their dad has surgery. They need connections with community members who care. Community members who volunteer their time and home to other community members because they don’t want children to get caught up in the child welfare system unnecessarily.

Safe Families is an organization that is ready to recruit members of the community to provide free overnight childcare to families without other options. This lawsuit, which has a hearing today, blocks our ability to provide such resources to families. The scenarios at the beginning are not hypothetical. These are all calls that Safe Families NYC has received over the past year. Hear directly from parents who have applied to be hosted by Safe Families NYC.

  • So they’re saying I’m a bad parent if I’m going through something in my life?
  • This is discrimination against parental rights in New York. We have the right to choose to help ourselves, we have the right to fix our lives, we have the right to choose who will help us in times of need. We have the right to be great parents without people poking at our business and without the system telling us we’re not good enough! We have the right to be a parent!
  • I hope they see us as a person, as a person who loves their children and if I have to go to the ER or take care of my health without the Administration of Children’s Services or the system being involved, that would be the best help I can get gain!
  • So they are saying we can’t get help without the system getting involved? Do they know how hard your life would be if the system gets involved?

We continue to receive calls from parents requesting hosting. New York, what should we say to those parents? Voluntarily put your child in foster care? No one would harm a child. And apart from these hosting rules, there are no other options.

New York, help us bring community resources to families. We hope you will join us in our mission to surround families with community support.

Galt is the NYC director of Safe Families for Children.

Leave a Comment