Thursday, February 16, 2012

2012 Grandparents and Other Relatives Still Rescuing

Hello - Recently I received a touching e-mail from an Aunt who rescued three nieces and a nephew several years ago. She was just 24 at the time, trying to secure a home for these four young children. The children came from her sister who had been warned by the State Department of Social Services that it was either Foster Care or a relative for the children. The young Aunt took the children and heard nothing from the sister or the State. She tells us that she raised the children the best that she could without help in a very tiny house. There was a small support for about a year and a half from the State social services, but the help was restrictive for what little was gained.

This is not an indictment of a State public system, but rather a comment on the elephant in our democracy. Our government system is constantly in a dance with Federal rules and States rights. Through a very clumsy representation selection we voters elect officials for both of these governing elements. The threads of governing become sadly complicated leaving many who would support the health and well-being of children, at a great savings to the government coffers, struggling not only financially but through an entanglement of public services including schools, health care, and basic needs.

In the story of the Aunt who worked hard to secure her wards becoming Mama to them all, there is a positive epilog. The children are adults now with close ties to the woman who cared for them. She was happy to tell me that soon there will be twins in the family and she will be a "grandma". We all know that she and the children endured so much more that a few sentences can say, but we are at least happy for this one family's survival.

I will try to keep up on updates for this blog. Please forgive me for delays. Life has had its own gravitational pull on me. Watch for a blog post soon on new events and resources.
With love,

Monday, April 11, 2011


Dear friends of Kinship care, The times they are a-changing, Bob Dylan wrote to us so many years ago. The times are indeed changing for me personally. This is the last blog on kinship care issues for awhile. I will keep the site up a few months so folks can access the archive. But updates will not be forthcoming. Therefore I implore any of you who follow this site to please look to your local resources for direction on your kinship concerns. Over the years we have developed many online and personal friendships concerning this vital issue. Some of those resources have a great deal to offer regionally. Please get on mailing lists, go to conferences or participate in webinars. These folks have been consistent with kinship concerns and are your friends as well as mine. Particularly: Michigan - Kinship Care Education Center,, e-mail based at Michigan State University, the Center is working hard to make connections for Michigan caregivers and service providers statewide. Michigan folks should contact the center to get on the e-mail list, and participate in programs. Prevention Network has on board the hardest working communicator, Luanne Beaudry. Luanne is specifically with the Parent Awareness Month Campaign that provides tons of material and contacts to fine resources for all parents, kinship caregivers, and those who work with families. Get on the mailing list and you will be surprised how much is available to strengthen families not only in Michigan, but nationally as well: Illinois - Barb Schwartz, Kinship director for the State of Illinois, DHS, is a bountiful servant to the kinship cause. She and her staff help make connections, provide programs, and general support to kinship caregivers and service providers. Get on this treasured mailing list: Ohio - particularly northern Ohio grandparents raising grandchildren and other kinship care providers can find a plethora of resources and active support groups with the Area Office On Aging of Ohio. To receive their excellent newsletter, contact: Florida - Very special friends for central Florida kinship caregivers covering several counties is Kids Central INc. These folks have established a number of support groups, programs that extend to many concerns for kinship families and they put on a fantastic conference every year in September. Check the website for contacts: Generations United is a strong advocate for intergenerational programs including kinship care. They also offer a great conference, webinars, and alerts for legislative information that affects kinship families. Study the website, then sign up for the newsletter alerts, better yet for a small membership cost you can join this special group - I am sorry to leave you at this point in the kinship care movement. You or your friends can still get the book, A Kinship Guide to Rescuing Children for Grandparents and Other Relatives As Parents from or from Affectionately, Tita (Helene)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011



From March Gateway newsletter - e-lert
2011 National Child Abuse Prevention Website From:

Visit the 2011 National Child Abuse Prevention Month website to help you prepare for Prevention Month in April.

The site features:

  • Strengthening Families and Communities: 2011 Resource Guide Tip sheets that address particular parenting concerns and questions—in English and Spanish—to distribute to parents and caregivers.
  • A calendar for April full of activities that relate to the Five Protective Factors.
  • Child Abuse Prevention Month widgets to post on your website.
  • A video that shows how Child Welfare Information Gateway connects professionals with information and resources on preventing child abuse and neglect

Adoption Web Sections

We have made additions to the Adoption section of our website. Find updated resources and materials throughout the section, including:

Ethical Issues in Adoption:
Postplacement Adoption Casework Practice:
Social Media in Adoption Recruitment:

Factually Speaking

This week marks the first anniversary of the signing of the landmark legislation known as the Affordable Care Act. This law was nearly a century in the making and, when fully implemented, will provide millions of Americans access to health care coverage that was not previously available to them.

In its first year, the Affordable Care Act has made a difference in the lives of thousands of Michiganians. To celebrate, the Michigan Consumers for Healthcare Advancement Coalition is hosting celebrations around the state to highlight the benefits gained by residents during the first year. The “birthday celebrations” began in Grand Rapids on Monday, move to Kalamazoo on Tuesday, the State Capitol on Wednesday, Saginaw on Thursday, and culminate in Dearborn on Friday, with the attendance of U.S. Rep. John Dingell, a long-time advocate for health care for all Americans.

Here’s what we’re celebrating during this week:
• Children cannot be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions, such as asthma.
• Adults with pre-existing conditions who have been uninsured for six months can purchase federally subsidized, comprehensive coverage for conditions such as cancer or diabetes. Individuals with cancer diagnoses have been able to access life-saving treatments. Information is available at .
• Young adults, up to age 26, can remain on or re-enroll in their parents’ employer-sponsored insurance without being a student or an IRS-defined dependent. This provision allows comprehensive coverage for young adults who might otherwise be uninsured as they work to establish themselves in their careers, or begin working in jobs that do not offer health care coverage.
• Senior citizens are enjoying several new provisions under the law. In 2010, those who entered the Medicare Part D “donut hole” received a cash payment of $250 to help with their drug costs. In 2011, seniors who enter the “donut hole,” will receive a 50 percent discount on their brand name drugs. In addition, all seniors on Medicare can now receive recommended preventive service screenings at no cost.
• Health insurance companies for the first time have required percentages (80 percent to 85 percent) of the premiums they collect that must be spent on medical care and quality improvements. If the requirement is not met, companies must provide rebates to their customers.
• Lifetime limits on benefits cannot be imposed, and coverage cannot be cancelled just because a person gets sick.

These are just of few of the benefits available now because of the Affordable Care Act. There are many others with more to be implemented over the next three years. One of the key future benefits of the law is the expansion of Medicaid to individuals with incomes up to 133 percent of poverty ($14,500 per year for an individual). This future benefit will provide new coverage to an estimated 400,000 – 500,000 individuals.

Another future benefit is the creation of a health insurance exchange, sometimes called an “Expedia of health insurance,” in which individuals will be able to compare and purchase affordable coverage with possible subsidies (depending on family income), limits on out-of-pocket costs, as well as guaranteed coverage regardless of pre-existing conditions for adults. There is much to look forward to.
Please join us in celebrating this historic law.
– Jan Hudson

Thanks to Luanne for these important items:
Luanne Beaudry, MS, CPC-RParenting Awareness Michigan Coordinator, Prevention Network517.393.6890 ext 12,
Recently I humbly accepted a friend's offer to read her memoir of a childhood in foster care. Though I have known her for years and knew many of the incidents in her foster care life, I was deeply reminded of the impact such childhood experiences have had on the many decisions and directions in the rest of her life. Her foster care experiences varied considerably from devestating to kindness. Devestating included humiliation, intimidation and sometimes brutal beatings. She was separated from siblings who were also in varied situations in their own foster care. She was full of questions that were never taken seriously and grew up trying desperately to understand the cause of all this chaos.

What effect can we expect from such extremes in the critical development of children into adults? You guessed it - when children are brutalized, terrorized, or constantly intimidated - they have a strong likelihood of growing up angry. For some of her brothers, very angry. Next month, April, is Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time to really reflect and take some action on how we, as a society, look at the miracle of childhood and how it affects our collective future. We want to prevent (costly) crime? Prevent child abuse.

When I first took the job in Child Abuse Prevention many years ago, the concept was mind boggling. I had to put a note in front of my desk - "How can we prevent child abuse?" - and made myself try to answer the question. Child abuse, child neglect, are often brought on by other painful social concerns such as substance abuse, which is often brought on by childhood damage to those magnificent little brains - it's a vicious circle. We have to look at the bigger picture of our society. And as witnessed by the excellent manuscript I just read, we have to stop complicating the issue by placing children from one harm to another. We can fix this. We have to.

You wonderful kinship caregivers and service providers may be interested in some of these good resources to help make the place a better one in which to grow up healthy.

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. April 12 in Michigan is Prevention Awareness Day.

May 3 is National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day. Lots of activities check
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is offering the Road to Recovery Program: Preventind and Early Interventionf or Substance Use and Mental Health Problems. Excellent presentations on helping teens.

Highly recommended websites on early intervention: (this one got a A+++ from Barb Schwartz, Relatives Raising Children Program, Illinois - thanks, Barb)

Relative Caregiving: what you need to know from the Michigan Department of Human Services available online at
That from Kinship Care Education Center of Michigan in their wonderful eKinnections newsletter,

Also from eKinnections:
Michigan Association for Foster, Adoptive, and Kinship Families (MAFAK) annual conference April 29-May 2 in Lansing. More info at

Area Agency on Aging Association's annual conference May 25 and 26 in East Lansing on the challenges faced by kinship families and what AAA's can do to support kinship families in their communities. More info

Resources for public education on kinship care from Penn State University Extension: and

Head Start in Mid-Michigan is starting a Proud Parents 6-week interactive learning experiences for couples on child raising issues in Lansing Michigan, April 11. For more info Sharon Rogers at 517-999-2730, ext. 114 or Derrick Gilliam, Fatherhood specialist, 517-999-2730.

Calendars fill up fast so you Florida folks may want to flip those pages and mark the calendar now for the annual excellent Mid-Florida conference from Kids Central Inc in Ocala for Kinship caregivers and service providers - September 30 - October 1. We will update you with more information in the summer, .

Other conferences or resources in your area please contact us at

And of course you can pick up A Kinship Guide to Rescuing Children for Grandparents and Other Relatives Raising Children at or through . Thank you to all who respond to this blog, If you check often and spread the word, the resources will be available to more and more families.

Be kind to each other.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Grandparents, Relatives Check these resources

Think 2020. What kind of country do we want to have as we move more deeply into the millenium? We could have greater struggles with our social problems because in the early years of the millenium we refused to take care of business.Or we could have a bright future because we know the importance of a healthy society with physically and mentally healthy children. Our economic troubles today unfortunately were borne out of a greed that permeated the first decade. Sadly to correct the problems we seem to be bent on denying the health of the future. The key word these days is cut. Cut spending, cut social programs, cut until we bleed to death.
It doesn't have to be this way. A collaborative focus on priorities with a vision to a designated future, say 2020, might just prove to be far more productive than slashing ourselves in a bloody self-flagellation.

Some of the resources and events following are an excellent place to help cure our vision problem. Please check out these possibilities for kinship programs, and especially support for the children - all of the children.

CWLA Conference
The Child Welfare League of America will confer with service providers and caregivers on March 27 through March 30 in the U.S. Capitol area (Hyatt Regency in Arlington VA to be specific). Over 60 workshops and many events including a pre conference Kinship Summit Sunday March 27. Register on line at or check out the website, If you register by this Friday, March 4 you can be entered for a free airline ticket drawing.

Generations United,
The Generations United alerts are providing up to date information on what's at stake for children, youth and grandfamilies, especially on the current assault on the Social Security program. GU tells us that 6.5 million children are protected by social security, the largest service program to children in the country. Go to the website to sign up for alerts.

e-Adolescence Newsletter
VALUABLE RESOURCE: the State Adolesence Health Resource Center currently centered at the University of Minnesota serving the country provided a valuable list of resources in their February 2011 newsletter. Such items as - A Portrait of 4 Generations, 2010; Juvenile justice systems reports; After school research/resources; Teen families; Teens in school - a New York State response to chronic absences; tons of health resources and research for teens; Children in low-income and the impact on their school success; mentoring. Please, please check this terrific list of resources. Ask for an online copy from .

As always Thanks for some of those contacts from Luanne Beaudry of Prevention Network/Parenting Awareness Month (PAM), or call for materials 517-393-6890 .

Parenting Tip Sheets
Thanks to Barb Schwartz, Illinois Relatives Rasing children Program for the following resource: Tip Sheets such as Bonding with baby, Dealing with Temper Tantrums, Teen parents, Raising your grandchild, Military families free from

Northern Ohio Kinship Tips
The Kinship Navigator Program Newsletter from Northern Ohio always has excellent tips on an aspect of relative care. Check

And as always there is a great deal of information in the book, A Kinship Guide to Rescuing Children for Grandparents and Other Relatives As Parents, or from

That's it from here. Live in the present, but keep your eye on the future.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Kinship Care and Substance Abuse

Last week I got a sweet telephone call from Helen Love, producer of The Senior
, a weekly 0ne-hour radio program from Detroit Area Agency on Aging. In an interview, she wanted me to discuss issues facing kinship caregivers based on items in my book, A Kinship Guide to Rescuing Children. Paul Bridgewater, President & CEO of the Detroit
Agency on Aging is the host and interviewer of the show. Paul and his wife are also grandparents raising a grandchild.
The show, which airs on WGPR, 107.5 FM in Detroit, gave me an opportunity to review the book that I had worked so hard to bring to fruition. I am pleased to say that the information holds up well. .. so far. But the experience of reviewing guides for kinship families also brought home, again, the reality of why children are living with relatives that are not their parents. So often it is drugs, alcohol or some other addiction that interferes with parenting. It is true that death or debilitating health issues contribute to some families resulting in kinship care. But the truth is too many children come to their relative families because their own parents are suffering the consequences of substance abuse.
I think alot about this problem in our society. On one hand we are bombarded with images of alcohol use. We laugh at drunkenness. We giggle about use of illegal substances.
We have built a huge tolerance to the use of drugs, legal and illegal. We cannot bring ourselves to stretch our thinking beyond what we see and tolerate - such as the terrible killings as a result of marketing illegal drugs, or the tremendous cost to all of us in almost any area of addressing the issue. In the 1920s we learned that prohibition of alcohol created problems greater than the original pain to individuals, much like we are experiencing today in the crimes that prohibited drugs bring.
Deeper thinking on the subject brings up all sorts of considerations. We will have to face this issue someday. In the mean time, where children are concerned, the consequences of legal or illegal substances have a tremendous affect on families often leaving children to live with relatives or in the foster care of strangers.
Much of the following news updates deal with these issues for all families. I hope some of you will find the information helpful. For relative caregivers, you are the port in the storm for most of the children. God bless you all.

1. In Michigan Recovering Oriented System of Care (ROSC) has published 16 Guiding Principles of the organization. To read the newsletter from this Department of Community Health check

2. Kinship caregivers and all families with young drivers may want to check the
excellent Safety Network Newsletter. Lots of information and guidelines. Check the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning, Lynn Sutfin,

3. Webinar February 9 2-3:30 for human service providers, Achieving Excellence and Innovation in Family, School, and Community Engagement from the U.S. Department of Education. For information or to register for this national program on collaboration contact
Lacy Wood, or 800-476-6861.

4. Check out Parent Action for Healthy Kids information at

5. Michigan Fatherhood Coalition will be having its 9th Annual Conference for Dads and Service Providers, February 18 in Howell, Michigan. $45, scholarships available. Contact Duane Wilson,

6. Throughout February and March Michigan Department of Health and Human Services will
be recruiting for 500 "highly qualified graduates" in human services to serve in Children's
Protective Services, Foster Care, Adoption, and licensing for juvenile homes. Contact Sarah
Davis for more information:
Thanks to Luanne Beaudry from Prevention Network (parenting awareness month - PAM) for all of the above information,

To attend the annual Conference on Community-Based Aging Services in Springfield, IL,
March 10 (which has significant info for kinship services) contact

IEP Meeting Tips
The February online newsletter of northern Ohio kinship care services has an excellent article on preparing for IEP meetings with your special education student. IEP is the process for Independent Educational Plan which brings a number of service providers together to help devise an educational plan for the success of each student, especially those in special education. This is a very helpful article: .
Thank you Arcelia Parsons for continued work with grandfamilies.

Mentor Training
Community Skills for Mentors is an on-going training program from Brookdale Foundation
and the National Mentoring Center. Check the website for this valuable training at . For more from Brookdale Foundation check
the website

Generations United recently received a grant from Brookdale Foundation for the National Center on Grandparents website. Go to Generations United,, and check the
Grandfamilies tab on the left column for more information.
Tell us your news at Check for more information about A Kinship Guide to Rescuing Children for Grandparents and Other
Relatives As Parents
, or order the book from

That's it for today. whew!

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Well, approximately every two weeks. Since we have moved into this new means of communication regarding grandparents raising grandchildren and other kinship news, we recommend that folks who are kinship caregivers of children or working in kinship care check back here every couple of weeks. Better yet become a follower of the blog so that you will be notified when new blogs are posted.
New updates as of January 20:

The Prevention Network in Michigan has substance abuse prevention grants available up to $1500. The grants are available to any volunteer community group in Michigan working on substance abuse prevention within their community.Those interested in applying should first contact Kelly Oginsky, Grant Coordinator, at 800-968-4968 or to discuss eligibility.

NO GREATER LOSS - Guidebook to today's Grandparents Rights
Neil Taft is author of the new book discussing grandparent rights whether raising grandchildren or seeking visitation with grandchildren from resisting parents. Neil covers a number of points for supporting grandparents rights including the complete U.S. Supreme Court Troxel v. Granville proceedings document that he says "serves as the standard by which grandparents rights are currently measured in the courts."
Neil manages the website for grandparents rights, . Check the website for more information about the book.

Sharyn O'Mara sent a reminder notice that the Law Firm of Wisselman, Harounian & Associates, P.C. of Great Neck, New York are active in grandparents rights and grandparents visitation and custody cases. Contact Sharyn at 516-773-8300 or Check their website for information

The guidebook for grandparents raising grandchildren and other relatives as parents that we published is still available at A Special Sale runs until January 31. The book is also available on at the regular retail price.

Let us know your kinship news at and sign up to follow this blog. In the meantime keep up the good work you do.
In peace,