2004-09-03 / Community

Pheffer Pushes For Info On Grandparent’s Rights

Assemblywoman Audrey I. Pheffer is reaching out to grandparents to ensure that they are aware of their rights under an act that became effective last January.

The “Grandparent Caregivers’ Rights Act” became effective January 5, 2004 and effects New York State law regarding custody.

Pheffer points out that the new law requires that if a child has lived with a grandparent for two years or more, then a judge must take this into consideration and base its custody decision on the child’s best interests rather than automatically returning the child to a non-custodial parent.

Also, Pheffer says, the new law requires that social services agencies must attempt to locate all grandparents and inform them of their options if a child is removed from the parent’s home or voluntarily placed in foster care. When notified, grandparents must be informed that:

They may be able to qualify as foster parents with some possible entitlements; or they may become legal custodians or guardians independent of the foster care system.

In addition, their failure to intervene may ultimately result in a child’s adoption by an unrelated foster family.

“This new law is so vital to the health and well-being of many children in New York State. Judges now have the ability to take into consideration circumstances that they previously could not,” said Pheffer. “Grandparents can now be assured that they will be kept informed of any social service activity that concerns their grandchildren, even if they were unaware of a situation with the grandchild’s parent.”

To obtain further information on resources for families in kinship care arrangements, you can contact the following: AARP Grandparent Information Center,888-OUR-AARP or www.aarp.org/grandparents.

Catholic Charities of Brooklyn & Queens GAMA – Grandmothers as Mothers Again, 718-875-8801 or atdbarber@ccbq.org.

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