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First foster care family center opens in Richmond Hill – QNS.com

First foster care family center opens in Richmond Hill

The first family visiting center in New York City opened in Richmond Hill last week – a bright house with nine family rooms complete with activities to encourage bonding between foster children and their relatives.
&#8220Visiting is the royal road to permanency,” said Michael Katch, Ph.D., the Director of the Administration for Children’s Services Program (ACS) at the Office of Medical Services Planning, to the crowd of staff, media and foster agency heads. Katch described his own foster care for eight years as a child.
&#8220I remember waiting outside for the old gray Oldsmobile to pull up,” Katch said, describing how he and his brother would spend Sunday afternoons with their biological father. &#8220My commitment to visiting is tremendous on a personal level.”
Even in the most destructive parent-child relationships, foster children often long for their families, said Elizabeth Roberts, Deputy Commissioner of the ACS.
&#8220At least families will be able to see each other at this facility,” said John B. Mattingly, Commissioner of the ACS.
The new center, which opened on Monday, September 18, features nine visiting rooms – including game and computer rooms, a beauty salon, and two nurseries – a kitchen, a dining room for birthday parties, and a playroom with one-way mirror so that personnel at the Center can observe family interaction.
Up to 11 families can use the center at once – if the reception area and backyard with grill and Bissett grape trees are also used – and seven counselors will be on staff at the facility and will work shifts. The Center will be open six days per week, Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and on Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The Center will host unsupervised visits for families who do not have access to suitable housing where they can reunite with their children as well as supervised visits with visit coaches.
Last week, agency heads for local family services groups toured the immaculate facility, located at 132-04 107th Street in Richmond Hill.
Marianne Mocarski, assistant executive director of Little Flower Children and Family Services of New York, said that she could imagine referring a number of her clients to the center for a variety of reasons.
&#8220Most children and families don’t spend time sitting and talking … usually they relate to each other through activities,” she said, adding that the homey feel of the new Center could encourage families to feel more comfortable than they would in a foster agency.
&#8220Some families find it difficult to come to the agency because it reminds them of the fact that their children are in care,” she said. &#8220Just the focus on visiting, it’s an important part of allowing children to return to their families.”

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