Thursday, December 11, 2008
I'm also going to give more talks this year about the issues in A Kinship Guide to Rescuing Children for Grandparents and Other Relatives As Parents, a book I labored over for so long. And we are going to improve the website www.chicagoroadpublishing.com . . . and find a reputable book distributor so that the book will be available in mainline bookstores . . . and we are going to follow up with personal notes to folks . . . clean the desk drawers . . . and bake cookies . . . oh dear, here goes that list again.
When we welcome our new President on January 20, 2009, a child of kinship care, I expect all of us to have our goals posted on the refrigerator and a new energy to accomplish our Good Intentions. For now here is wishing you a loving holiday season filled with peace.
Monday, November 17, 2008
1. In case of impending job loss, caregivers should prepare to register for unemployment benefits as soon as possible.
2. Social Security benefits including possible benefits for the children may need to be reviewed. Issues affecting social security include age, disabilities, and in the case of children – the death of a parent. Contact a social security representative for a review, www.ssa.gov .
3. Discuss financial options for relative caregivers with the local social services office. Social services can provide child only grants, guardianship, subsidized support, foster care, adoption, child care support, parental child support. Beware, however, all of these resources through the local social services have great big IF’s surrounding them. New federal legislation, Fostering Connections, has progressive options for some kinship families, but the rules are still in discussion. In Michigan, for instance, likely eligible families are suggested to hold off on acquiring guardianship because the new support may be for families who will become guardians, not those who already are. Oh my. If a family is already in the child welfare system, a review of the options available may need to be considered. Just because such issues are challenging, families should still investigate changes that could really assist through this current financial crisis.
4. Prepare for taxes and possible benefits as soon as possible this year. Talk with a tax attorney, Legal aid, or other tax preparer about changes in the family including kinship children and income changes to maximize the tax benefits for the family.
5. Check the AARP website for a number of ideas and resources. Especially valuable to kinship care providers is the Directlink service that covers dozens of areas of assistance and even offers some of the forms that can be filled out on line, www.aarp.org Go to Family then Grandparents then Grandparents Raising Grandchildren.
6. Local Kinship Care Resource Centers should plan now to have representatives from these sources share services information to relative caregivers in the region.
It could be tough in the next few months, but by working together we can make the road a little easier.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
The group discussing this dynamic was suddenly comforted by one grandmother's wisdom:
"I don't take credit for my children's accomplishments," she said, "so why should I take the blame for their difficulties?"
Something to think about.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Imagine this: you and several other relative caregivers, mostly grandparents, have been meeting at the local senior center with a little help from Senior Center staff. The Senior Center provides space, snacks, and guidance with inviting speakers to come to the group once in a while. From your conversations with each other you know you need to reach out to other kinship families. You know that some of you need specific help with legal or other human service issues, but no one seems to have the time to make such help happen. You know it is time to get specific leadership and a plan to make services happen.
Then you hear about the Brookdale Foundation grant proposals and you think maybe this could be a good launching point for your own local kinship care group.
You and other members of the group make a list of how you see your kinship care support group - your vision of your own local Kinship Care Resource Center with:
Regular meetings with experts offering assistance to kinship families. Topics include registering and helping children in school; making a strong financial plan including a will; dealing with taxes now that your family has expanded; when and how to seek guardianship or other secure authority for the children; dealing with angry or upset little ones; getting appropriate health care.
- Newsletters that reach out into your community about issues and resources of interest to kinship families.
- Services for relative caregivers such as assistance with social services, legal concerns, respite, counseling, and help with immediate needs.
- Someone to work collaboratively with other groups in the community on broader issues such as housing and transportation.
- Developing a library of resources for kinship families on a variety of issues including fetal alcohol syndrome, child abuse and neglect, HIV babies, grief, etc
Okay, you all say, the list is long – how are we going to make this happen?
For financial support like the Brookdale Foundation grant you must be a non-profit organization [501(c)(3)]. So you go to the Senior Center, which is already a non-profit, and request that they apply for the grant on behalf of the grandfamilies they are already assisting. You become part of a committee with the Senior Center staff that studies the guidelines from Brookdale Foundation to prepare the grant that will start the Kinship Care Resource Center in your community. You realize that the details of the grant such as matching community funds and a plan to continue the program after the two-year grant is completed are all part of making the Resource Center a valuable entity in the community.
You submit the grant before December 4 and hope that you will be one of 30 groups that are approved.
One of the important gifts of a seed grant, such as the Brookdale Foundation offer, is recognizing that working together in the community strengthens the group and all who support the project.
Learn about the Brookdale Foundation request for proposals at http://www.brookdalefoundation.org/ I hope all small kinship care groups can look at grant opportunities like this to develop an image of the local Kinship Care Resource Center, choose an appropriate non-profit organization to sponsor the Center, hire a coordinator and assure that local relative caregivers are receiving valuable services.
See the September 5 Kincare blog on Kinship Care Resource Centers.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
September 22, 2008 the United States Senate unanimously passed the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 sending the bill to the President for his signature. The bill is bi-partisan compromise between the House and Senate that includes many of the provisions of the Kinship Caregiver Support Act. The bill is a significant recognition of the contribution grandparents and other relatives make in raising the nation's children.
Thank you to everyone for all their hard work in making calls, writing letters, and visiting with their legislators to pass this bill through Congress.Your stories brought this issue to life for your Members of Congress and inspired them to act.
The bill will provide supports for grandfamilies by:
Authorizing subsidized guardianship to enable children in the care of grandparents and other relatives to exit foster care into permanency
Establishing Kinship navigator programs to help link relative caregivers both inside and outside of the formal child welfare system to a broad range of services and supports that will help them meet the needs of the children in their care
Requiring notice be given to adult relatives of a child if he or she is placed in foster care
Allowing states in a demonstration program the option to set separate licensing standards for relative foster parents and non-relative foster parents
The bill also supports permanent families by:
Extending direct Title IV-E funding to tribal governments
Reauthorizing the Adoption Incentives Program, a critical tool in helping children become adopted.
Allowing states to receive federal reimbursement for support provided to foster youth up to age 21
Requiring reasonable efforts to keep siblings together
The president still must sign the bill and there will be significant work to implement the bill fully, but it is nonetheless a historic day for grandfamilies.
To see GU`s press release on the Fostering Connections to Success Act of 2008, go to http://www.gu.org/Lette6291248.asp
To read Donna`s blog entry on the Act, go to http://generationsunited.blogspot.com/.
For more information on the Act, go to http://www.gu.org/Polic7231752.asp.
Good news indeed!
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Alone. That’s how thousands of kinship families feel. The experiences involved in being a kinship family in communities can certainly make adult caregivers and children in schools feel very different from those they meet daily. Communities that recognize the strength of kinship families can go a long way to embrace and support the Grandfamily efforts to secure the children.
A strong Kinship Care Resource Center in communities can:
- Help families through specific resources in social services, health, counseling, schools.
- Provide gatherings where families can share and learn together.
- Advocate in the community for cross-over services in housing, transportation and other intergenerational planning
- Provide tools and a library of resources on specific issues – social security, teen issues, financial aid, tax issues, medical resources, etc.
What does a strong Kinship Care Resource Center need?
1. Financial and structural support of an umbrella organization such as Senior Center, University program, YMCA, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Intermediate School District, Community Action Agency, the community list is numerous.
Note: Some local Kinship Care groups can become their own entity, but they will need to become a non-profit incorporated organization (Federally 501(c)(3) recognized) in order to be strong enough to survive.
2. A paid coordinator (director, head honcho) that will develop the programming, seek funding and strengthen the Resource Center for years to come.
3. Publicity. A telephone, online, media and personal contact in the community. Kin families are out there but unfortunately many have become suspicious of organizations or they just don’t have the facility to get to the resource that can help them.
4. Money, ok, Funding. A budget that is funded in at least three different ways:
-through the umbrella organization support
-through non-profit grants
-a strong community fundraising plan.
5. Accountability. Built into every program should be a means of financial accounting and policies of conduct that protect the integrity of the Center.
Section III pp 147 to 180 of A Kinship Guide to Rescuing Children for Grandparents and Other Relatives as Parents discusses the development of establishing a Comprehensive Kinship Care Resource Center in every community. The main keys are Leadership, Determination, and a Community that cares about all of its families.
Now for some news:
The Brookdale Foundation announces the RAPP Local Seed Grant Initiative for 2008-2009. Copies of the RFP guidelines and application forms for the Local Initiative may be downloaded from www.brookdalefoundation.org in September 2008. The deadline for submission of local proposals is December 4, 2008. Up to 30 local agencies will be chosen from throughout the United States to receive a $10,000 grant over a two-year period. Matching support in cash or in-kind will be required of all selected agencies. The sponsoring agency must be a 501(c)(3) entity or have equivalent tax-free status.
Go for it!
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
The next Kinship Care Notes will be sent next week with legislative news, contacts and little informational pieces from A Kinship Guide to Rescuing Children.
By the way, anyone interested can check out the book at www.chicagoroadpublishing.com or at booksellers Amazon.com or Abebooks.com . Mid-Michigan folks can buy a copy at either Schuler’s Independent Book Stores in Lansing area.
Any information you may want to share in the newsletters can be sent to email@example.com
I will try hard to keep the blogs more current. There is so much to share with this very special community. In the meantime, keep summering.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Ah, summer. I write this on a beautiful Michigan summer day (which changes quickly). Low humidity, birds singing, sunshine and flowers. Not a time to think about (yikes!) SCHOOL! If you are new to kinship care and know the children will be with you in the fall, you probably should start making your lists so there will be a smooth transition.
The list not only includes regular kid stuff (clothes and supplies), but the business of registering. In the book, A Kinship Guide to Rescuing Children for Grandparents and Other Relatives As Parents, the chapter titled “School: A Child’s Full Time Job” divides the task of school preparation into two parts – Registering and Living with School; Educational support from home.
It is the registering of children that requires some thoughtful summer preparation. Here we go:
Call the school system or visit so they can get to know you. Ask about the required paperwork for registering children even if it is a school they have already been attending. Kinship caregivers may need:
Proof of certain required immunizations
Test results for grade level (from previous school), and
Proof of the kin’s authorization to care for the child such as guardianship papers.
Let’s talk about these items. Often, in the urgency of placement or the disarray of the child’s life with parents, records required for moving smoothly through our society may be lost. Documents like the birth certificate or immunizations will require time to update.
If the children have already attended school, start with the previous system to have records forwarded to the new school. Kin will need official authorization for this request.
If the child is just beginning or previous school records are not available, try another route: for lost birth certificates contact the state Office of Records where the child was born. There may be another step involved here – the child’s social security number (1.800.772.1213, or www.ssa.gov ).
For immunization records, kin could try to contact the doctor or clinic where the early childhood shots were provided. If not, bringing children up-to-date will have to start now in the summer.
Some school systems will only accept court ordered documentation of the kin’s authority – guardianship, temporary child welfare placement, or adoption. Other forms such as Power of Attorney or consent of parents may not be acceptable. Be sure to have this documentation in place before school starts.
Children in relative placement will have the help of the agency to get through the process of registering for school. Children who are with kin at the request of parents may need parent involvement in obtaining the necessary records. We’ll do another blog later on kids and getting ready for school. As you all know, every situation is different. Advocating for the children requires stamina. Take your vitamins.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
I strongly support this critical child welfare step to assist kinship care families that are in the child welfare system. What I am wrestling with is the struggles facing the majority of kinship care providers, those who are not in the child welfare system, who are caring for children in their family full time against some terrific odds with little or no help at all.
Approximately fifteen percent of children in kinship care are living with relatives because they have been the victims of child abuse or neglect and placed by the child welfare system with approved and willing relatives, most in Relative Foster Care. All the other relative caregivers in our country have willingly taken children through request of the parents or some other source not in the child welfare system, including military or incarcerated parents. These families struggle with many of the same issues as their colleagues – obtaining guardianship, lack of health insurance protection, working with schools and medical systems, extreme costs involved with raising children in today’s world including child care. Most of the voluntary caregivers (60%) are grandparents who accepted their role of parenting again out of love for the children and a sense of duty to protect the children. One fourth of these grandparent providers are living below the poverty level. I am wrestling with the issue of how our society can address the concerns faced by the families who are not in the child welfare system. Any thoughts about this?
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Kinship care is multicultural and as traditional for as long as we have walked the earth together. Perhaps that is why our society has an apathetic attitude about kinship care. Yet today’s caregivers, millions of them, are faced with extreme difficulties in their effort to secure the children.
The best way to strengthen families and thereby strengthen communities is to establish Kinship Care Resource Centers (KCRC) in accessible geographic areas. These Resource Centers can be satellites of a larger central group such as a University Extension Department, an aging service, Social Service Agencey, or a family oriented organization such as a YMCA. The KCRC should have just a few critical ingredients – someone who is accessible to families (a paid coordinator who knows the issues and who knows the community) and a structure that will ensure the life of the center in the long term as families grow up and new families come in.
The third section of A Kinship Guide is like a book within a book - step by step ways to establish a Comprehensive Kinship Care Resource Center in the local community, activities that strengthen the Center’s service to families and ways to secure the service in communities.
Kids Central, Inc in Ocala, Florida serves children in many ways from placement services for child maltreatment to age-out services to those young people who age out of foster care but still need a launching transition to their adult life. One impressive area of Kids Central, Inc is the significant outreach to kinship families. In a recent phone call, one staffer told me they just established five more kinship groups in the rural areas. The groups start with an eight week curriculum called Second Time Around that covers many of the basic concerns facing new kinship families. The groups also meet together for support and to break that sense of feeling alone in the task. Families in the groups have a strong link to the kinship care specialist in Ocala for specific needs. Kids Central, Inc is a great model for community support of kinship families. For more information check online www.kiscentralinc.org
Saturday, May 24, 2008
I often receive responses to the Kincare blog that are not published on the site. Some are like Elizabeth, an aunt who wants her niece to come to her loving home rather than to foster care. There are many dynamics to these questions. The situation of a relative intervening in the removal and placement of a related child depends on many things:
-The State in which the child and the intervening relative live. Every State responds to these issues differently. Most states do participate in an Interstate Compact with other state child welfare departments specifically for these types of cases. The relative must do research on the particular states involved and the process for interstate placement of the children.
-The circumstances of the removal – is the child welfare plan weighty on reunification with the parent or is this a more permanent removal?
-Timing of when the relative finds out about the impending placement. If a child is already placed in foster care, the relative’s plan of intervention will require action with the court involved. If the child has not yet been removed, the relative may be able to work with the child welfare agency that is authorized for the placement.
-Of course, the relative must also be concerned with their own ability to raise the child. The agency will do an investigation of safety for the child in the relative’s home. But also the relative must do some serious soul searching to determine the long haul which includes issues like extra finances for legal, medical, and therapeutic costs. Time to parent, other children in the home and other relatives are to be considered as well.
-The type of arrangement with the child welfare agency managing the case – will the relative be licensed as Kinship Foster Care? Or is the placement with the intention of Guardianship or eventually Adoption?
Sources relatives can use to determine the answers to some of these questions (and there will be many more questions – take your vitamins):
1. Begin with the child welfare workers involved. Be pleasant. Let them know your availability as a relative caregiver. Learn what the situation is and the intentions of the agency regarding reunification.
2. Study the state(s) child welfare policies on placement. Check to see if there is a central Kinship Care resource in the state – often a person in the state department of Health and Human Services is very knowledgeable and advocates for relatives. Ask. If the child welfare department does not have a kinship care advocate, check with a university extension office, AARP in the state, Child Welfare League of America, the statewide Area Agency on Aging, Office of Aging Services, local Senior Center or (see the Resources section of A Kinship Guide to Rescuing Children – www.chicagorroadpublishing.com we tried to get a central resource in every state). The senior resources are leaders in the kinship care movement because nearly 2/3rds of providers are grandparents raising grandchildren.
3. Talk to an attorney who specializes in family law to find out what you many need to do to secure a child as a guardian. Before you get too deep into the legal entities be sure you know the costs you may face, the distances that are involved, and of course the timing of the possible placement/reunification.
This is just a beginning. Every State is different in their approach to child welfare, even smaller jurisdictions within states are different from each other. Learning all you can, understanding your own capabilities in raising a possibly troubled child in your own situation, and being able to respond to sudden changes are critical in the early days of considering Kinship Care.
Elizabeth, I cannot answer the specific questions in your situation, but if you write to me with a contact number, I may be able to direct you to sources that can help: firstname.lastname@example.org . Kinship care providers are so dismissed in our society, yet the more than 3 million relative caregivers are, in most cases, the angels to families in trouble. I wish you well in your efforts on the difficult road ahead.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
The goal was to encourage legislators to get on board for The Kinship Caregiver Support Act (S. 661 and H.R. 2188). This act would help relatives in many ways:
- those with children in foster care to be able to care for them permanently. Federal funds would also help relative guardians receive similar assistance,
- require states to notify relatives when children have been removed from the parents,
- provide for flexible licensing standards for relative foster care,
- establish The Kinship Navigator Program in each state to help link relative caregivers to resources and services for children,
- assist relative care for older youth who exit foster care to receive education and training vouchers for college and other independent living services.
There are currently 29 sponsors in the Senate and 59 in the House of Representatives. To find out more about S.661 and H.R. 2188 and where your representatives stand contact Generations United www.gu.org or your legislative representative.
There will be many blogs coming up on the big trip for me including a review of an exceptional kinship program in central Florida called Kids Central Inc. Keep checking the blog.
Thursday, April 3, 2008
Generations United, AARP, Children’s Defense Fund, Grandfamilies of America, Grandparents for Children’s Rights – A Strong Collaboration
Children’s Defense Fund – www.childrensdefense.org is the central site for registration to the Grand Rally. Once participants register an e-mail packet of events will be sent that includes maps and information of events surrounding the Rally. Go to the Children’s Defense Fund site then down about four articles to the Third Grand Rally.
National Committee of Grandparents for Children’s Rights – www.grandparentsforchildren.org is assisting with overnight accommodations at the Grand Rally. The website offers a variety of support areas for grands. If visitors join the organization, a free subscription gift to Grand Magazine is offered.
AARP – www.aarp.org is offering advocacy training at the Grand Rally on May 6 and the morning of May 7. On the AARP site you will find a ton of resources for grandparents including group forums where grandparents can “talk” with each other on various topics.
Child Welfare League of America - www.cwla.org is one of the most prolific organizations on the web. With the talk radio show, webinars (training sessions on line), and regular announcements of reports and funding opportunities, CWLA, is a wealth of activity information for child welfare service providers.
Generations United – www.gu.org recognizing the wealth of all ages, the focus of Generations United is to celebrate all ages and to nationally encourage the collaboration of organizations that enrich our lives together. Study this wonderful website. Take a look at Together magazine on line for many articles about what is happening for the generations around the country and the world. I am so pleased that A Kinship Guide to Rescuing Children will be recognized in an upcoming issue of Together.
Grandfamilies of America – www.grandfamiliesofamerica.org the only organization for grandparents raising grandchildren full time 24/7. Lots of resources and work toward collaboration with other like groups.
Other Items: A Kinship Guide to Rescuing Children for Grandparents and Other Relatives As Parents is receiving some very nice response. To see an indepth copy of the book go to the website - www.chicagoroadpublishing.com
Sunday, March 9, 2008
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Maybe we will see you there.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
www.blogtalkradio.com/CWLA-Radio is the correct address. Usually on Wednesday, this week the show will broadcast on Tuesday to encourage Congress to endorse a National Conference on Children and Youth. It is time for such a conference. Research is flowing in on the state of our nation's vulnerable children. This is a great new technology way to express our concerns. Remember:
Tuesday February 26, 2:00-2:30 PM ET Heading for the Hill: Calling on Congress to Endorse a National Conference on Children and Youth Visit www.blogtalkradio.com/CWLA-Radio.Call-in Number: (347) 326-9411
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
- the miracle of blogging has gone to new heights -blogradio - CWLA has a blog "talk" radio on Wednesday's (you can check it anytime) on issues of the day related to children. The show is new in technology, some small glitches have to be worked out. And there is advertising, our free enterprise way of supporting some amazing experiences. To hear and be a part of the CWLA blogradio go to: www.cwla.org/radio
- the second piece of news from CWLA is an announcement from the U.S. Children's Bureau for grants to be awarded to tribes, tribal organizations, and migrant programs for child abuse prevention in fiscal year 2008. Applicants are encouraged to implement evidence-based and -informed programs and practices. The funds must also be used to support an evaluation of the programs and services funded by the grant. Three grants are expected to be funded for $138,963 per grantee for FY 2008.
And finally a brief update about the book: IT'S DONE!! copies will be available by March 1. For more information you can contact me here with a comment or e-mail at email@example.com
Best to you all,
Thursday, January 24, 2008
- legal decisions
- social services
- school issues
- medical care
- how to start a kincare group
- children in the electronic world
- financial planning