I’m wrestling with an issue regarding kinship care. This week significant legislation passed the House of Representatives in support of kinship care families. House Resolution 6307 called Fostering Connections to Success specifically addresses concerns to kinship foster care families that include funding, services for children aging out of foster care, training for social service workers on the specifics of the funds, and other issues that have been of real concern to relative foster care providers. See an analysis of the bill at http://www.alliance1.org/Public_Policy/welfare/Fostering_Connections.pdf . The next step for this critical piece of legislation is the U.S. Senate.
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?