Kinship Care on the Rise

While foster parents continue to be the safety net for our country’s abused and neglected children, in recent years a significant change has begun to take place. More and more, instead of placing these children in the homes of strangers, caseworkers strive to place them in the homes of relatives or family friends, also known as kinship homes.

kinship careThis change has resulted in more grandparents raising grandchildren then ever before. In 2012, National KIDS COUNT reported that 4% of all children under the age of 18 in the United States were living in a home where a grandparent was their primary caregiver. This number is likely to rise going forward.

New Jersey follows this trend, with grandparents, aunts and uncles and family friends being approached first to take in at risk children, rather than sending them immediately to foster homes. Kinship caregivers must become licensed, just as foster parents must, to take in children who are in the custody of the State.

The pros and cons of kinship care are well-documented. On the positive side, staying with a grandparent can be comforting to a child who lacks stability and may be frightened or confused. On the other side, grandparents may be overwhelmed with emotions for both the birth parent and the child. For this reason, as well as increased age and other factors, they may have a more challenging time caring for a young child or teen.

Grandparents raising grandchildren are often remembered with fondness and respect by their grandchildren when they are older.  In her blog post The Ties That Bind – Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, FAFS CEO Mary Jane Awrachow shares her memories of growing up with her grandmother and how this experience impacted her life.

Are you a kinship caregiver? What are some of the unique challenges you face?

5 thoughts on “Kinship Care on the Rise

  1. NO financial support for the state while a child in kinship care has all the needs of those in Foster Care
    the Kinship Care provider is giving NOTHING……..Its just not right and these childern have the same needs but are ignored when it comes to assistance

    • Hello Nancy,

      I don’t know if you’re speaking of a particular situation or not. But, in general terms the state of NJ does provide financial support and services to kinship families either through the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P) or the Division of Family Development (DFD). There is a difference between the two depending on how the child came into the home.

      If a child is placed by DCP&P into a relative or family friend’s home and that home can be licensed then the same financial support and services that are provided to a non-relative foster home are provided to the kinship home. The financial support provided is the same foster care board rate and clothing allowance and Medicaid ID(based on the child’s age and care needs), other services would depend on the child’s specific needs.
      If the home cannot be licensed then according to policy DCP&P cannot provide financial support and services.

      If the child comes into the home by way of a family agreement, then the family would seek services through DFD. If eligible DFD would provide financial support, at a much lower rate than DCP&P, and Medicaid ID.

      If there is a particular situation you would like to discuss please contact us at 1.800.222.0047.

    • I don’t why you think that, I am a Grandparent and that is not the case. Of course, I would have taken him no matter what the case. I could never have slept at night not knowing where he was.. but I did take him and the state did help me. You should check further. I would think you missed something.

  2. Many years ago, I took in a cousin’s child. She had gone through 15 homes in 15 years. When I contacted social services for assistance in training and providing for her needs, I was told by a social worker that if I applied for my license to get help with the child, then the child would be a foster child and they could take her out of my home for any reason and place her elsewhere. It was told to me years later that the only reason that the social worker told me that was to scare me away, which is exactly what it did. I didn’t want to loose the child into the system. Had I known then what I know now, what a different outcome it may have been. Always get it in writing folks….

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