NYC Administration For Children’s Services Celebrates National Foster Care Month
Kick Off Features Foster Care Teens Theatrical Performance “My Purpose Party™: To Whom It May Concern”
Children’s Services Also Launches a Foster Care Advertising Campaign and Hosts Foster Parent Recognition Ceremony
New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) kicked off May as National Foster Care Month with the presentation of “My Purpose Party™: To Whom It May Concern,” at ACS’ Children’s Center, 492 1st Ave on May 6, 2010. This theatrical production was written and is being performed by teenagers in foster care and hosted by Children’s Services and the Harlem Dowling foster care agency. In addition, as part of the month-long foster parent recognition celebration, Children’s Services this week launched a radio and print campaign to recruit foster parents for NYC children and youth titled “Be Their Champion,” and next week will honor New York City’s foster parents.
“I sincerely thank our dedicated foster parents for taking care of our children, and I encourage every New Yorker to consider becoming a foster parent. There are children in your neighborhoods who need your help,” said Children’s Services Commissioner John B. Mattingly.
Foster parents at a reception at Gracie Mansion.
National Foster Care Month is a time to raise New Yorkers’ awareness about foster care, celebrate the many generous New Yorkers who have opened their hearts and homes to children as foster and adoptive parents, recruit new foster and adoptive parents for children who are in need of a home, and bring attention to children living in foster care in New York City.
This week, Children’s Services launched a foster parent recruitment campaign with a series of radio and internet ads with the theme “Be Their Champion – Become a Foster Parent to a New York City Child.” Go to the ACS website to see the print campaign. To hear the radio ads click here: English and Spanish.
On May 11, Children’s Services’ Office of Parent Support and Recruitment will host a Foster Parent Recognition event to recognize NYC’s foster and kinship parents. The ceremony will be held at the Brooklyn Museum Beaux Arts Court.
ACS’ website also offers information for prospective foster parents. The site also features a revamped application page to make it easier for prospective families to indicate their interest in becoming a foster family. Go to www.nyc.gov/acs or click here Become a Foster or Adoptive Parent.
About tonight’s performance Commissioner Mattingly said: “This is a unique opportunity for our teens to share their stories and for them to give something back to the community.”
My Purpose Party™ is a youth initiative founded by actress Ari Meyers. Through the initiative, Meyers works with teens in foster care to facilitate team-building activities and lead discussions about their experiences and what it means to be an advocate for change. This exploration led to a creative process wherein the teens wrote letters in which they shared whatever it was they felt people should know about their lives. These letters became the basis of their show, “To Whom It May Concern.” The production is filled with music, dance, rap and monologues through which the kids tell their own stories, some of which they’ve never told before.
“At the heart of the program is the belief that everyone has something unique and valuable to offer, and that this approach to creative giving takes participants on a personally transformative adventure,” Myers said.
One of the show’s performers Kareem, 18, said, “It feels like a part of me grew. I never knew I could do this.” Another performer, Christine, 17, said, “One story made me cry and that made me want to open up and tell my story.”
Legendary actress Ruby Dee, who starred in a film about foster care, and whose own mother took in foster care children, was also in attendance to cheer the teens on. “All our stories must be told,” Ruby Dee said. “It is so important that these children be heard. They have so much to give.”
To help children and families, Children’s Services is currently involved in the following initiatives:
- Working to see to it that as many children as possible who enter care will achieve permanency within one year – through safe return home or placement with a family willing to adopt. By July 1, 2010, children in care will have a specific, time-targeted plan for permanence within one year. These plans will be developed through family team conferences and recommendations to the Family Court.
- For youth 18-21, no youth will leave care without a connection to a caring adult, a chance for stable housing, employment, medical coverage, and a support plan. Further, we are working to increase the percentage of youth who leave foster care for family settings each year for the next several years.
Sharman Stein / Laura Postiglione 212-341-0999