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!