Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Some valuable websites are available for caregivers of children. Briefly check the following regularly:
www.wiredsafety.org - Dr. Parry Aftab manages an exceptional source for parents, grandparents, teachers, law enforcement and all who are involved with the protection of children online. The latest anxiety about children online is sexting, sex talk and pictures. On January 22, Parry will present a panel discussion on a variety of media sites. Go to Wiredsafety for more information and other internet news on kids.
www.isafe.org - funded by those who use the site and launched by Congress, this website is geared toward educators including offers of print copies on internet safety programs.
www.esrb.org - This valuable non-profit, Entertainment Software Rating Board, rates games (and don't we have games!) for student use. Other information is also available about upcoming products from game producers.
www.netlingo.com - is a website for everyone using computers for communications including texting and online social networks. Though much of the site includes everyone, adults and children, there are two important resources - Erin on line talks about protecting children on the web, and the column called Top 50 web lingos every parent should know. These are web codes most often used by children and teens that exclude parents and guardians from the conversation. For instance:
CD9 - Code nine Parents are around
LMIRL - Let's Meet in Real Life
F2F - Face to Face
GNOC - Go Naked on Camera
and some are using numerical codes:
459 or 143 - I Love You
420 - Marijuana
8 - oral sex
Scary as this sounds we need to be aware of what children use the internet for and how to protect them.
The very best way is to talk with your young electronic users . . . often! Not necessarily talking at them, but listening as well. Let them know that nudity on the web, particularly by underage users is being scrutinized in many areas and may result in criminal action even against underage users. Beyond the legal issues, young teens need to know that respect on the internet is very important. No camera shots in the locker room, no participating in suspicious invites on line or in real life. Talk about futures and the global reach of the internet. Employers are increasingly checking on their prospective employees' social use of the internet.
Kinship kids may be vulnerable to shady adventures, but we are finding that kinship children in safe environments with relatives who love them are actually more mature than many children in the general population.
This topic is very serious for all of us. In A Kinship Guide to Rescuing Children, we devoted an entire chapter to Children in Today's Electronic World (p.113 to p 126). Topics covered include the good and the bad of the internet world, virtual gaming, cell phones, texting, and one thing seldom mentioned - the cost of these powerful communication devices.
It is indeed a brave new world we face today - exciting, adventures, full of oo's and ah's, but also testing our abilities to be smart and protective of ourselves and our children. Just keep talking and exploring together as we all work for a better world.
Happy New Year,
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Looking at that headline I think of the power of group organizing, but that is another topic. This blog is about the topic of individual kinship families getting organized in order to face the complex world of social and legal rules regarding the care of the children.
Kinship care families that are meeting and using the book, A Kinship Guide to Rescuing Children, for topic discussions may want to start with "Getting Organized" pages 1-7.
Tip: Try to get a local office supply store or other source to help with expenses of the following products for each member of the group-
Calendars with notation space, easily accessible for the family.
A small bound notebook, like a composition book, journal, or notebook calendar.
A folding file with separate compartments for important papers.
A 3 x 5 type of card that can be carried in a purse or wallet with frequent contact numbers.
Talking Points for the topic of Getting Organized:
We all copy an important telephone number on the back of an envelope, or stuff a receipt in the bottom of a bag. We all lose important papers that require a signature for one situation or another. But when it comes to Relative Care, these casual moments of forgetfulness can cause terrible stress. Many of the kinship caregivers in the group are likely to have a shoulda coulda story or two about misorganizing.
Four items are very valuable to a simpler task of getting organized for the sake of the children and their possible day in court:
A dated notebook log specifically of the kinship care. The log should contain dates of visitation, medical appointments and costs, court actions, social service visits, contact numbers and other items pertaining to the progression of the care, the health and well-being of the child, and other expectations. The log is not a personal journal and should not contain personal feelings about individuals or the situation. The log is often the best evidence in court of the child’s care and future.
Important Papers file. This valuable tool should contain important papers such as child's birth certificate, legal authorization papers for kinship care, child’s medical records, school records, social service records, social security cards, etc. all in separate areas of the folder. The advantage of a single folder for most important papers is the easy grab on the way to appointments. Guard this folder. Make copies to keep in another safe place. Clean the file every few weeks to make sure it is up to date. Participants in a Kinship Care group will have many good suggestions from their own experience to add to the discussion.
The contact card. A simple little card of basic information – social security numbers, contact names and numbers of case workers, etc. Keeping the card in a wallet provides quick and easy access. Kinship caregivers who use an electronic tool to keep track of such things know to keep the little device battery ready and backed up in another source.
The Family Calendar. Kinship families who have not had a child around for awhile find out quickly that a calendar helps keep everyone in the family on track for school events, appointments, and visitations. The calendar is also a good cross-reference for the Log.
Good luck at your meetings. More tips using A Kinship Guide to Rescuing Children in kinship care group meetings coming in future blogs. Keep the faith, take your vitamins.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Some things you should know about the book before you start using it in a group. A Kinship Guide focuses on helping families understand what they are up against outside the household – legal issues, social services, schools, medical, etc. There are some excellent in-the-home parenting books for special issues that kinship care providers face everyday. So many families were asking for some sort of guide to get through the maze of social services which is why we wrote the book with that focus.
Let’s imagine a group of kinship families wanting to get together just to talk things out and understand the problems facing them. Start with the logistics:
1. find a suitable place (a church, community center, coffee shop with a private room, senior center, ymca, someone’s living room)
2. get announcements out through local resources including posters and radio or access TV, local news sources – include time, place, and topic
3. bring snacks
4. child care is a tricky one – most groups begin with a friend of a friend or hire a teenager. I’m kind of picky on this one. For a casual initial gathering this may be okay. For get-togethers in a social service place such as a Senior Center or School, it may be necessary to hire a professional who is aware of the trauma many kinship children are experiencing. See page 173 of A Kinship Guide, the section is titled Quality Safe Child Care.
At the First Meeting
Get to know each other. Someone may be a facilitator to help with the initial sharing. Send a sign up sheet around for future contact – name, address, contact numbers including e-mail. The things a kinship group should know for future meetings also includes the topics the families are anxious to learn more about and the proportion of families that are volunteer kinship caregivers or placement caregivers. Some of the ways of dealing with public systems are affected by volunteer or placement.
Closing the First Meeting
The new kinship care group should be sure they have a contact sheet, suggestions on how to improve contact with other families (believe me, there are so many kinship care families in each community that really want to get together, but just don’t know how to begin – so many feel as if they are all alone in this daunting task). The group should also decide time, place for the next meeting and topic.
If groups are following the book (and for our next blog on this issue), I suggest Getting Organized is a great beginning. This is an interesting topic for groups. Someone could check the community for support for some items that everyone in the group to receive: a file folder, calendar, log book, and 3 x 5 cards. Stay tuned. We’ll have fun following A Kinship Guide to Rescuing Children with the next tips on Getting Organized.
In the meantime, thank you for all families and service providers for all you do for kinship care.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Maybe we are in a wait-and-see on the social issues that affect all of our citizens. I hope those of you who are in kinship care are holding on strong – meet up with each other, gather resources wherever you can, and write – write letters and articles to your local media and legislators to keep the issues alive.
In Florida, for instance, concerned child welfare providers are appealing to the voters to say NO to cuts of Title IV E waiver which provides significant funding for kinship programs. See the You Tube appeal on www.kidscentralinc.org
Check your state legislative activity regularly, or to find out who your district legislators are, try www. (your state).gov or simply google the state government.
To keep up with your federal legislators, Generations United, offers the following steps:
How to contact your representatives:
1. Identify Your Member of Congress:
A. Visit www.congress.org
B. Enter your zip code in the "write your officials" box
C. View names and contact information for your members of Congress
2. You can call your Senator directly or be connected through the House Operator (202-225-3121) or Senate Operator (202-224-3121).3. Once connected, identify yourself as a constituent and ask to speak to the Legislative Assistant in charge of national service and education issues.
Keep the faith, kinship friends, you are still not alone.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Friday, June 5, 2009
Those state agencies who are applying for Navigator Programs from Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act are due July 6. Though there are segments of this grant emphasizing foster care, the potential piece for statewide kinship navigator programs for all grandfamilies are timely. The full announcement from ACF can be viewed here: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/grants/open/HHS-2009-ACF-ACYF-CF-0078.html
This piece of the legislation is critical to establishing statewide programs to guide ALL relative caregivers. As we have noted before, much emphasis is placed on Relative Foster Care which accounts for about 150,000 children nationwide, yet the other 5 million children raised in kinship care have just a few strong state programs to help guide them through the mysteries of public systems. Most states have little or no guidance except in regional areas. The consequence is that children are left with minimal resources and adult caregivers exasperated by the challenges.
If you are part of an agency that is able to apply for the Navigator Program funding ($450,000/ 30 grants), encourage your team to work diligently toward July 6. The September 4, 2008 Kincare Blog has an entry on Keys to local Kinship Care Resource Centers. Some ideas there may be helpful. A Kinship Guide to Rescuing Children (ISBN 978-0-9801352-0-6) also has a comprehensive section on The Community Kinship Care Resource Center beginning on p. 146.
Best wishes to all of you who work for kinship families and who are kinship families. Every conference I attend, every book talk, every casual encounter with relative caregivers is inspiring and insightful.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
“Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Seminar Presented by: Sr. Suzette Fisher, SND, Ed.S., Double ARC The is Program approved for 1 CEU in Counseling and/or Social Work. Thursday, April 30, 2009, 8:15—9:30 a.m. at the Margaret Hunt Senior Center, Toledo, Ohio 2121 Garden Lake Parkway RSVP to Lorri Esper, Administrative Assistant, 419-725-7042
Representative Eddie Washington (Waukegan/Lake County) will be sponsoring a town hall meeting for relatives raising children Monday, May 4, 2009 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Waukegan Park Place Senior Center 414 South Lewis Avenue Waukegan, Il 60085Representative Washington will facilitate the discussion, share information concerning his proposed legislation to assist kinship families and be available to hear your concerns.Representatives from DHS, DCFS and the Dept. on Aging will be available to answer questions and discuss resources. This event is open to relatives raising children as well as providers. Please feel free to contact Barb Schwartz at 217/524-5327 or by email Barb.Schwartz@illinois.gov for further information on the event.
MAINE for all Relative Caregivers
The University of Maine Center on Aging RAPP is conducting a survey of kinship caregivers in rural areas. This survey will be used to help develop a RAPP manual that will help agencies that are starting new RAPP services in rural areas or seeking to expand RAPP services to rural caregivers. The manual will also provide fresh ideas to existing RAPP programs in rural areas. To date, we have gathered feedback from professionals and experts in the field. Now we need help tapping another group of experts - rural caregivers. Please consider assisting with the development of this manual by passing out a survey to your support group members to help us gather information about their rural caregiving experience. The survey can be done individually or as a group. Please contact Melissa Adle at email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org or call (207) 262-7931 and leave a message to participate.Melissa can e-mail a packet that includes an informed consent and information sheet, instructions for group/individual participation, a survey form, and raffle sheet, which you can print. “I appreciate your assistance, and hope you will help us to document the strengths of rural grandfamilies and challenges they face so programs can develop strategies to best meet their needs.”
Statewide Kinship Care Professionals Conference Friday, May 29th, 2009, 9:30 a.m.—2:00 p.m., Hannah Community Center, E. Lansing, MI
Registration Due: Mon., May 8th, 2009. Seating is limited
Cost: Free for agency contracting with an Area Agency on Aging; $25.00 for general public. Call 517-355-9600 or e-mail us at email@example.com to register!
Also: Nominate a candidate for the “Outstanding Kinship Leadership
Award” and prize by Tuesday, May 1. Nominees can include a kinship director, coordinator, and or a support group leader. To nominate a candidate, please e-mail or mail us a half-page paragraph of your nominee’s name, agency, title, years of service, services provided, and why they deserve this recognition . The award will be presented during the Statewide Kinship Service Provider’s Meeting.
For a good example of Kinship Care communications check out these two:
The Spring edition of the kinship Kinnections newsletter for Michigan from Michigan State University School of Social Work, www.kinship.msu.edu this is an excellent form of communication with state wide programs. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org
May Kinship News from Area Office on Aging on-line at www.areaofficeonaging.com or contact Judy Paschalis email@example.com
Thank you to all who send information to firstname.lastname@example.org or inquire about the book, A Kinship Guide to Rescuing Children for Grandparents and Other Relatives As Parents, (www.chicagoroadpublishing.com or Amazon.com).
Enjoy the birds,
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
From Sharon Durken of the Minnesota Kinship Caregivers Association (MKCA). We at MKCA are excited and honored to share this news. MKCA has been selected by Brookdale Foundation as one of 6 finalists in competition to receive the first ever national Janet Sainer Award.
The Janet Sainer award seeks to honor the legacy of a special consultant to the Brookdale Foundation Group, where she focused on the issues faced by grandparents and other relatives raising children.
The information should be posted on the Brookdale web-site www.brookdalefoundation.org
Sharon Durken, Executive Director
Minnesota Kinship Caregivers Assoc. (MKCA)
Kinship News is now available online from the Area Office on Aging of NW Ohio Newsletter at www.areaofficeonaging.com Area Office on Aging of NW Ohio 2155 Arlington Avenue Toledo OH 43609
We all know that substance abuse plays a primary role in the breakdown of families often resulting in kinship care of the children. The Michigan Prevention Association, sponsors of March as Parent Awareness Month (PAM), is holding the Spring Prevention Advocacy Event, Thursday April 2, Room 424 at the Capitol in Lansing. For more information www.yourmpa.org
Illinois Task Force on Grandparents and Other Relatives Raising Children Quarterly Meeting is Tuesday, March 31, 2009, 10:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. Hoogland Center for the Arts 420 South Sixth Street Springfield, IL 62701
Please RSVP by Wednesday, March 25 to Barb Schwartz by phone (217/524-5327) or email Barb.Schwartz@illinois.gov
TWO IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS
Kinship Trends Report
Casey Family Programs from the Ann E. Casey Foundation has recently published a valuable report on State Kinship Care Policies for Children That Come to the Attention of Child Welfare Agencies. The full report, Findings from the 2007 Casey Kinship Foster Care Policy Survey by Tiffany Allen, Kerry DeVooght, Rob Geen can be found at
Check the Executive Summary page for a good overview. [Thanks to Generations United www.gu.org for notification of the report]
Fostering Connections Reference Guide
New Help for Children Raised by Grandparents and Other Relatives: Questions and Answers About the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 , for use as a resource tool, implementation, and monitoring of compliance of the Fostering Success Bill. The final document has connections from the questions and answers directly to the part of the bill. Contact Stefanie Sprow of Children’s Trust Fund at email@example.com to request a copy. [Thanks to Pat Owens of Grandfamilies of America for this information, www.grandfamiliesofamerica.org]
The capacity to care is the thing which gives life its deepest meaning and significance. Pablo Casals [Thanks Barb S for the timely quote]
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Note the early registration for the National Center on Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Symposium in Atlanta Georgia has been extended to February 27, 2009. Go to http://chhs.gsu.edu/nationalcenter/docs/symposium2009.pdf for the registration form and the full brochure of a very impressive line up. This two-day conference, March 10 - 11, offers credit for social service providers. Cost – about $300 for the two days. Alternate contact: Dr. Deborah Whitley, School of Social Work, GSU, (404) 413-1055
Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) National Conference for members is in Washington, DC, February 23-25. www.cwla.org Those attending can pick up a copy of the 2007 Guidelines for Mental Health in Child Welfare For more information about the Guidelines for Mental Health in Child Welfare and the associated Toolkit, contact Lisa Hunter Romanelli at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Nominations are currently being accepted for the 2009 Generations United Awards to be presented at the Awards Banquet during the Generations United 15th International Conference July 27 – July 31 at the Hyatt Regency Washington in Washington DC. Neither nominators nor nominees need to be GU Members in order to be considered for an award. The deadline for Award Nominations is March 31, 2009. For more information or to download the nomination form, please visit http://www.gu.org/AwardsNominations.asp.
Social Service Workers – this one is important:
Two new resources on the new Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008. The resources include New Help for Children Raised by Grandparents and Other Relatives: Questions and Answers About the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 and Top 10 List for Relative Caregivers to Implement Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008.The resources were produced in partnership with Generations United, the Children`s Defense Fund (CDF), the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), and many others.
Applications are available from February 3 to March 31, 2009 online only at http://www.aarpfoundationwlc.org for The AARP Foundation Women's Scholarship Program. The scholarship is open to low-income women 40+. Priority is given to women who are in one of three categories: 1) women raising the children of another family member, 2) those in dead end jobs and 3) those who have been out of the paid workforce for an extended period. The scholarships, which ranged from $500 to $5,000, are to be used for tuition and books are paid directly to the educational institution. For more information contact AARP Foundation Women's Scholarships at 202-434-2110 or visit the website at http://www.aarpfoundationwlc.org.
A wonderful free concept in conferencing: This one is from Barb Schwartz, Social Work in Illinois (Barb.Schwartz@illinois.gov ). If you facilitate a support group for grandparents raising their grandchildren and/or parenting relatives, then please consider participating in our FREE upcoming e-seminar:Online Seminar and Conversation for Support Group Facilitators with Facilitators Barbara Kates and Bette Hoxie Wednesday February 25, 2009 12:00pm-4:00pm EST(11:00am - 3:00pm Central Time) Open to all interested support group leaders/ facilitators. This is a great opportunity to talk with seasoned group facilitators about the nuts and bolts of starting and maintaining a group as well as challenges that arise along the way. This is the first program in a series of e-seminars designed for support group leaders and facilitators who run groups for grandparents raising their grandchildren and/or parenting relatives. Please visit http://www.mainecenteronaging.org/moodle to create an online account and access the e-seminar you would like to join.Those who wish to participate will need a computer with internet access and a web browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, AOL, etc.). All seminar activities happen online in a message board format (no audio) with no other special equipment or computer programs needed! View the e-conversation series flyer at: http://www.umaine.edu/mainecenteronaging/documents/Facilitatore-seminarfeb2009.pdf
For more information or technical assistance, please contact:Melissa Adle UMaine Center on Aging 207-262-7931 or email@example.com This series has been made possible through a grant from the Brookdale Foundation.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
It’s time, folks. Those of you who work in kinship care and especially at local and state resource centers – time to get all of your data and funding resources together so that you can make a plan for RFP’s (program proposals called Request for Funding) that will be coming your way. Whether it is funds from the Fostering Connections for Navigator programs or a collaborative piece of any stimulus money or foundation requests for funding, you will want to be ready.
Steps you may want to consider for funding requests:
1. Meet with kinship partners for a brain session to discuss a project need – it could be establishing a kinship care resource center or addressing a specific health need project for kinship providers such as caring for HIV babies.
2. Vision - Create a vision of the project in detail – is it a resource center where kinship caregivers can discuss their needs and get one-on-one help, regular meetings, with a library, or a program based on a core of current Best Practices such as Second Time Around curriculum (Linda Dannison, firstname.lastname@example.org ). Gather the data of those who will use your program to emphasize the need to funders. Note who will be partners in the project such as the health department, senior center, or ymca. Note the role each partner will play. Clearly plan who will do what including the lead agency and a director or leader of the project.
3. Money – work together to plan for costs of the project – personnel, transportation, supplies, the details you will need to make the project succeed. Have the budget reviewed by all partners. Don’t forget to include in-kind support (volunteers, non-financial agency support such site, printing, secretarial support). Always plan for diminished funding – how will the program expect to continue after this funding is gone?
4. Outcome – What are the expected results of this project and how will they be measured? Could the project have a research piece utilizing local university researchers?
5. Time – Be sure that designated writers of the dream project will be ready to adapt to the call for the RFP formula.
Don’t wait for the RFP call. Your kinship community of workers will want to be ready to respond when money becomes available. For more on establishing a kinship care resource center check the book, A Kinship Guide to Rescuing Children for Grandparents and Other Relatives As Parents at www.chicagoroadpublishing.com .
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Grammy, first I know it doesn’t mean much when you feel so frustrated, but I applaud you and your husband for the support and love you have given these young children. I think you need an ombudsman or some other advocate to help you. Please take a moment to write down what it is you specifically need. Then write down what the barrier is to getting this need. Then consider contacting the Grandparent Project in California at 800-222-1753 or e-mail your question through their website www.seniorlegalhotline.org .
There is an agreement between all 50 states called the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC) which may be a tool to get the two states involved to assist you. I know that money is a grave problem and you certainly don’t want to be spending a lot on attorney fees or cross country transportation. Please call the Grandparent Project, a legal resource specializing in issues like these. I hope you will send another comment to the Kincare Blog to let us know if this was helpful.
In the meantime our thoughts are with you on this big issue in your lives.
Sunday, January 4, 2009
Children in the Relative Foster Care programs receive Medicaid. That covers about 15% of the children raised in kinship care.
Grandparents who choose to go to their State’s social services agency can apply for one of two types of services:
1. the Child Only Grant which does not scrutinize the caregivers income. Child Only Grant caregivers receive a small amount of support funding and a Medicaid card for the children.
2. public assistance which is funding to eligible (income based) caregivers for managing the household, AND a Medicaid card for the children.
Though financially struggling, grandparents and other caregivers do not choose public assistance because the public agency is required to seek money from the parents to offset the costs. This often causes a great deal of dissension in an already troubled family, a wedge grandparents especially want to avoid.
The Medicaid card is a valuable tool for children because it not only covers medical issues, but also preventive care and in some cases special needs issues.
- If a kinship family has a moderate income but the child for some reason is denied Medicaid, most states offer the States Child Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) funded by Congress through a variety of public health programs. For a small amount of money - $5 a month – a basic health insurance can be obtained for low-income working families.
- Families that are not income eligible for such programs often face challenges with their own insurance companies. Most health insurance institutions cover only birth or adopted children in the home – not power of attorney, guardianship, or even court ordered custody.
When relative caregivers assume the care of children who are in need of therapy or serious medical problems they are forced to look at a variety of possible options, none of which come easy. With 6 million children in relative care, most in need of adequate health coverage, this is an issue advocates, legislators, and private insurance providers must consider in the coming year.
Back to work!