Thursday, June 26, 2008

KINSHIP CARE ASSISTANCE ISSUE

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?

7 comments:

Angie said...

I would like to know your source for the stat that only 15% of kinfamilies are in the CPS system.
It would be useful stat, but I would need to quote the source of this research data.

Tita said...

Dear Angie – thank you for writing to the Kincare blog. Your question is a good one and one I should explain to everyone interested in kinship care. Recently I was at a conference with Dr. Joseph Crumbley, noted Psychologist and author on kinship care, who quoted the statistic in his talk. When I inquired he showed me that the answer is mathematics.

The number of children in Foster Care (varying over the years to about 500,000 children) includes 24% in Relative Foster Care (about 120,000) (http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/factsheets/foster.cfm). When compared to the number of children identified in the 2000 U.S. Census as being raised by non-parent relatives - over 6 million, the number of children “in the system” seems to be only about 3%. The wild card in all of this is the child welfare temporary placement of children in relative care (not yet Relative Foster Care) which is not often documented by state child welfare agencies, therefore accurate data is very difficult to determine.

To be safe, then, in a discussion about children in the child welfare system and children that are being raised by grandparents and other relatives outside the child welfare placements, 15/85% allows a sense of proportions so that some discussion can take place. In these days of credibility vs spin it is difficult to adjust a number by more than 10%. However, if we wait for accurate national data to be put into place regarding temporary placement, I’m afraid we may be years away from even looking at the issue of those many families who are not in the child welfare system trying to navigate the problems in their kinship care.
Tita

ReMama said...

Tita,
I appreciate the numbers to indicate how many children have or have not been through the child welfare system but regardless the number kinship relatives who have children who have not been in child welfare need just as much help as those who have.

I find it so unfair that my husband and I would love to adopt our granddaughter that we received through voluntary custody agreement but can not afford to because she would loose her Medicaid. (She was born with major medical issues.)

However if she had been fostered to us after having been in the child welfare system her Medicaid would continue. Now how unfair does that sound to you.

We are penalized because we stepped up BEFORE the government had to take her care on and as such we recieve less help.

This is infuriating to me!

Tita said...

Dear reMama - I am so sorry that you are experiencing one of the many snags that kincare providers are caught in. You sound like a wonderful (re)mama. Maybe we will get another help from your post. Many fine attorneys and providers read the blog and may have some loop hole that will bypass the snag. Hang in there.
Tita

grammyh said...

What about those grandparents who were told if they didn't take custody of their grandchildren by Social Services, that the children would be split up and never see each other again because there were no homes that would take all 3 children. When custody was finally given, after 13 trips to another state to attend these custody hearings in juvenile court and going through all your savings, you are given physical custody of the children along with financial help from social services
and when legal custody is given you
are cut off from any financial aid and are told, the children are yours as well as their financial welfare.

If we had not taken them from foster care in another state and brought them to our state(at our expense, not social service or the state they came from, they would still be in the other state, split up, not knowing where their relatives were and why no one was there to care for them.

They still came from foster care, our home was inspected by social services and we and our daughter and her family had to be live scanned and background checked, just like a foster care home.

Where is the help for us?

Grammyh

Tita said...

Dear Grammyh - It sounds as if you have been through a great deal of social service entanglements. Your story is certainly appreciated here and I hope others can send some answers. Depending on your resident state, you may want to try again to share your concerns and search for support with a state office in child welfare. Because of new legislation, there may also be some Kinship Care navigation programs that can help. Your frustration has certainly been heard here. I hope we will get some helpful responses for you. Tita

JHENRY said...

This is grammyh in California. I have written to my senators, assembly men and women and the govenor of California, as well as the speaker of the house for the California Senate. NO ONE PAYS ANY ATTENTION TO US. THE ONLY THING THEY CARE ABOUT IS THAT THE CHILDREN WERE TAKEN OUT OF FOSTER CARE AND THE STATE NO LONGER HAS TO PAY FOR THEM. LIP SERVICE IS CHEAP. MY GRAND CHILDREN SHOULD HAVE STAYED IN FOSTER CARE SO THAT THEY COULD GET FOOD, CLOTHING, SHELTER AND A SCHOLARSHIP WHEN THEY GET OUT OF HIGH SCHOOL. BECAUSE WE TOOK OUR GRANDCHILDREN OUT OF FOSTER CARE THEY GET NOTHING.