Friday, September 21, 2007

It's Time to Support Kinship Caregivers

On September 10, the Center for Law and Social Policy released a response to Senator Gordon Smith's July 26, 2007 Call for Papers to Examine the Needs of Grandparent and Other Relative Caregivers. The paper highlights research that shows the value of kinship care:

• Children living with kinship foster parents are as safe or safer than other children in foster care.
• Children with kinship foster parents experience fewer moves while in care than children with non-relatives.
• Children with kin foster parents are more likely to live with their brothers and sisters.
• If they re-unify with their birth parents, children who live with kin in foster care are less likely to re-enter care than children who had been with non-relative foster parents.
• Children living with kinship foster parents have fewer behavior problems and feel better about being in foster care.

The report identifies obstacles that face kinship foster parents including lack of support they receive, the difficulties they may face making educational and medical decisions while their kin are in foster care, and a lack of information about available services. In conclusion, the report calls for federal support of subsidized guardianship stating:

"Few relative caregivers would ever describe raising their relative's child as providing a pubic service but, in fact, that is exactly what they are doing. ... Subsidized guardianship can support children in legal guardianships—just as adoption subsidies help children in adoptive families—and increase permanency for more children. Federal dollars are already used to provide assistance to foster and adoptive parents to aid them in providing for the children they are raising; it only makes sense that relative caregivers receive similar support." Specifically, the report calls on Congress to support the Kinship Caregiver Support Act.

We strongly agree.

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