While New York officials have publicly embraced the goals of the federal 2018 Family First Prevention Services Act — which prioritized placing children with kin when they can’t live safely at home — little was known about how the state has fared on a local level. 

In a county-by-county analysis, The Imprint examined the urgent child welfare goal through a statewide database and interviews with dozens of sources, including parents and relatives of children in foster care, family court attorneys, local and state leaders, kinship care advocates and social work professors. 

The result? Reporter Steven Yoder found that where foster children end up depends a lot on geography. In some New York counties, there are virtually no foster children placed with relatives. Yet just across county lines, as many as two-thirds of kids remained within family networks. 

This two-part series reveals shortcomings as well as promising practices on the kinship care front that are being deployed in the Empire State.