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Grant Aids Foster Care

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – Improving the health of foster care children in Erie County is the goal of a Community Foundation grant.

Close to $53,000 was awarded by the foundation to the Child Adolescent Center in Buffalo.

Each year some 600 to 700 children enter the Erie County's foster care program.

According to Stefan Perkowski, director of program services at the Child Adolescent Center, these children would receive a quick medical exam after waiting several hours in a busy hospital emergency room.

Perkowski said these children are already suffering their own stress. Many are neglected or abused.

"Abuse breaks down into sexual abuse and physical abuse," said Perkowski. "Some of the neglected children are fairly unkept. Many times they are not washed and their clothing that is in poor condition."

But thanks to the Community Foundation grant the Child Adolescent Center will be able to improve primary medical care for those children.

Perkowski said the grant will allow the center to establish on-site medical services.

He said they expect to have a full-medical team in place by February 1.

"We will now be able to provide a better initial screening for children that come into foster care," said Perkowski.

"We will also begin to give each child a mental health screening upon entering foster care. That is new for Erie County."

Perkowki said the Community Foundation's commitment also led to an "unexpected" state grant.

The New York State Office of Children and Family Services is awarding the Child Adolescent Center $150,000 to expand on the same medical services program.

Perkowski said Buffalo's program will also be used as a state-wide model.