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Abstract: When the "crack" cocaine epidemic of the mid- and late 1980s leads to vast increases in the numbers of abandoned and neglected children, New York City officials move to create a new program to provide foster care. Rather than using only traditional foster care placement agencies which had screened and located families, officials turned to the extended families of the children themselves, providing grandparents, aunts and sisters with foster care funds. This case tells the story of a city official who sees the new "kinship foster care" program as more than an expedient but as a way to ensure that black and Hispanic children are cared for within their own cultures. But when a severe budget crunch hits the city, Child Welfare Administrator Robert Little must consider the depth of his commitment to the program and devise ways of defending it. The case combines possibilities for discussion of appropriate social policy with one of agency strategy. The abridged version provides somewhat less history of traditional foster care agencies and their role.
Learning Objective: This case illustrates the rapid expansion of Kinship Foster Care following a rapid increase in demand for foster programs.