Thursday, June 21, 2007
If you really are checking I'd also like to know what topics are concerning you as someone interested in the hush-hush issue of Kinship care - grandparents, aunts uncles, older sibs, all going through the tough course of raising a child. In the book I cover some of the big topics that many families have shared with me:
Legal issues - when and what to do to protect children in the relative care family (guardianship? power of attorney?)
Social Services issues - what can social services do to help us help these children? (and how do I find social services near by?)
School issues - when and how to register and secure children in school.
The list goes on. What is on your mind? Maybe we can help.
In the meantime, back to the book work.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Many of the families that I have worked with over the years have so much to think about they just can’t bear to go into the issues of their own death. However preparing a Will is really a positive step for securing relative-raised children. Families who do not have notarized statement of their wishes after death are leaving their material goods AND the care of their children to “Probate” – the State authority to decide how both goods and children’s care will be distributed. This is called intestate – dying without a will.
Courts are likely to return under-age children and any funds such as insurance beneficiary or educational savings accounts to the surviving parents of the child. Children live with a relative for a reason. Often care with the surviving parent is not in the best interest of the child.
What to do:
Talk with an attorney, kinship care support group, senior center, local AARP representative, or other legal assistance resource on how to prepare a Will that covers:
- An executor and alternate executor of the estate (even if you think you have nothing of value). The executor can be any trusted person who will follow through with your wishes as stated in the Will.
- A designated guardian for the children, and alternate in case the designated guardian is unable or unwilling to accept the responsibility.
- Specific wishes about protection of any funds that have designated the children as beneficiaries.
Be sure to follow through with notarizing the document, make copies and store in a safe place.
NOTE: A Living Will is not the same as the Will designating your wishes after you
die. These are two very different documents. Statements about your care if you become debilitated and unable to care for the children should be noted in a Living Will.
Monday, June 11, 2007
If you found this blog, you most likely have an interest in learning more about families who are raising related children. There are three million kinship care families in America today and more than six million children. These families are from all segments of our society - rich, poor, urban, rural, a hundred ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Some caregivers are very young, some are very old. Most are grandparents who have lovingly taken on the job of raising their grandchildren.
Though the problems faced by all the kinship families are different, the hopes are the same: to raise healthy children in a safe and loving environment. But as many Kinship families can testify, the task is far from easy. Unlike raising children in a parent-headed household, which is difficult all by itself, kinship families also face a myriad of public services that may be called upon to assist one problem or another. Often the rules to obtain the proper service are frustrating and intimidating, leaving Kinship Care families to struggle through the best options available to them.
Kinship Care is not a "they" problem. Caring for related children can happen to anyone at anytime, when the kin caregiver says "Yes". The caregivers second response is usually, "What now?" When and how to get legal authorization to make decisions for the child from entering school to acquiring guardianship is one of the biggest decisions Kinship Care families have to make. Money becomes a big issue when the costs of gas to get to a host of appointments starts cutting into the caregivers own health care costs. One grandfather who took on four of his grandchildren told me he was shocked at how much milk the young teens required and how much just the milk took from his food budget.
Often it is the suddenness of becoming a kinship care provider that is the hardest to get over. Sometimes in the middle of the night, the social worker stands at the door with one or two or more children explaining the necessity of kinship care. After finding space to sleep and eat and live, comes finding the important papers - the birth certificates, the health records, school registrations, custody papers, social security numbers. Then the families face the appointments. Appointments with social service case workers, doctors, schools, crisis counselors. Then, for many caregivers, the realization that the life they had with friends and spouses, and coworkers is now changed drastically. Everything centers on the needs of the children. This is what Kinship Care providers have taken on, and this is why I call them courageous.
The following posts are just quick ideas, some have been included previously in e-mail newsletters, or from the upcoming book. Perhaps this Kinship Care blog will reach and hopefully help more of these very special grandfamilies. Please read at your leisure. Comments are welcome.
Best wishes, Tita