The New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) has announced a new policy regarding the ability of foster parents to access the social security numbers of children placed in their homes for tax purposes. This policy resolves a long-standing problem that effectively blocked foster parents from claiming children as dependents for tax purposes – something federal regulations allow them to do. Foster parents could not claim children in their care without a social security number. Prior to this new policy, the interpretation of an agreement between OCFS and the Social Security Administration prevented these required numbers from being shared.

The policy, which was announced in an informational letter from the Strategic Planning and Policy Development Office at OCFS, is the result of continued advocacy by the Coalition and others. We are grateful to the leadership at OCFS for responding.

The procedure outlined in the informational letter is relatively straightforward. Foster parents must complete a simple one page form, which is submitted to their local department of social services or the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS). Guidelines that allow foster parents to obtain numbers largely mirror IRS policy.

Access to social security numbers is limited solely to the filing of income tax returns. Individuals who have already filed their tax returns may be able to file an amended return.

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