Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Kinship Caregivers Need Support

by Mary Boo, assistant director

On April 10, more than 100 kinship caregivers and child advocates from almost every state gathered in Washington, D.C. to tell their members of Congress about why they need a federally supported subsidized guardianship program. While promoting the Kinship Caregiver Support Act, these dedicated advocates explained why guardianship is a necessary option and how the legislation could immediately help more than 15,000 foster children and youth across the country leave care permanently and safely.

I spent the day with two grandparents from Staten Island, New York, who know firsthand how important a guardianship option is. These dedicated individuals have adopted their niece and nephew and are foster parents to four of their grandchildren, and need support to make ends meet with their now large and unplanned family. Adoption isn't the right option for their grandkids but they see real limitations as foster parents. Several of the children have serious medical problems, but the grandparents cannot get them care without a birth parent's permission. They have had to cancel appointments and reschedule them more than a month later when they have not gotten the permission in time. New York has no subsidized guardianship option, so a federal subsidized guardianship program would definitely improve the lives of these children.

The Kinship Caregiver Support Act has significant bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate. We hope to see it pass into legislation soon. If you would like to write to your member of Congress to urge passage, please visit the Kids Are Waiting web site.

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