Monday, June 11, 2007

Welcome to Kincare - a blog for Kinship Care providers

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

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