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Two Queens lawmakers are leading the call to redefine family in hopes that children in foster care are placed in permanent homes more quickly.

State Senator Tony Avella and Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi are pushing to amend certain aspects of the state’s Kinship Guardianship Assistance Program (KinGAP). First introduced in March, the bill unanimously passed New York State Legislature in June. On Aug. 22, the two lawmakers urged Governor Andrew Cuomo to give the bill support statewide.

The legislation would add step-parents, godparents, neighbors or family friends to the list of prospective permanent guardians. It would also amend the definition of a “prospective relative guardian” to lower the potential for sibling groups to be broken apart.

KinGAP was designed to help a foster child achieve permanent placement with a relative who has been the child’s foster parent for at least six months and provides financial assistance and, in most cases, medical coverage for a child permanently discharged from foster care to a guardian.

The bill has received support from child advocacy groups Schuyler Center and Citizens’ Committee for Children.

“This bill is an important step toward ensuring more children are able to leave foster care for stable, permanent homes with people who care for them,” said Kari Siddiqui, Senior Policy Analyst at the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy. “We applaud Senator Avella and Assembly member Hevesi for their leadership on this issue and for being a voice for New York’s children at the Capitol.”

“Getting these amendments passed were crucial to improving the future of foster children across the state,” Avella said. “All children in this state, whether they are foster children or not, deserve to have every possible opportunity afforded to them. I thank Assembly member Hevesi for pushing this legislation in the Assembly and his dedication to securing the future of the children and families of our state.”

To read the full details of the bill, visit the New York State Senate website.

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