Monday, August 20, 2007


Well, I did a little experiment of contacting 16 (of 19) Kinship Care programs in one State (with over75,000 kinship care families). I got the telephone list from a statewide University extension office that maintains a Central Kinship Care program. Very interesting. Several of the calls represent agencies that are trying to maintain programs on quickly disappearing budgets. They range from Commission on Aging, Area Agency on Aging, Community Mental Health, local university extension office, one Christian organization, and slim contracts from Department of Human Services ("I only work one day a week on the Kinship care program, please call back on Monday").
Of the 16 I was only able to actually speak with 2 people, left messages for most of the rest, two were disconnected numbers. Since the 1980's when the trend to place children with relatives to help relieve the pressure on the Foster Care system, relatives have become the placement of choice for tens of thousands of families. Just as many families voluntarily care for related children. These families are providing a significant service to the children as well as the helping systems that are relieved of significant financial support of the children. When families take on the extra care of traumatized children in their family a number of critical issues become part of the burden - medical care, school, counseling in many cases, court appointments, legal involvement. For these families it is not just an extra plate at the dinner table. Yet when the families seek help they are more likely to find voice mail, restricted programming, or no help at all.
The relatives, especially grandparents, who rescue the children are the unheralded heroes of our collective village.

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