September is Kinship Care Month!
Many Ohio children are fortunate to be cared for by kinship caregivers when their own parents are unable or unavailable to care for them. Kinship caregivers may be relatives, such as grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, and even older siblings. About 100,000 grandparents are currently raising their grandchildren in Ohio right now.
Kinship caregivers may also be close family friends, neighbors, coaches, Sunday school teachers, and others familiar to the child and family. Many individuals step up to provide temporary and sometimes permanent care, raising “extended family children.” While many of these kinship arrangements happen outside the child protection system, children services agencies recognize research showing that children and youth raised by a safe, familiar kinship caregiver have better outcomes than those children in unrelated foster care, including more regular school attendance, better grades and fewer community problems. And they are less likely to move from home to home. That’s why when courts remove children from their home, agencies seek first to place them with kin.
Support for Kinship Families
There is a broad continuum of family arrangements and governmental supports when a child is placed out of the parents’ home. Arrangements range from informal to judicially ordered. Families may qualify for additional benefits. Most of these benefits are available through your county Department of Job and Family Services (JFS) or online at Benefits.Ohio.gov. Resources can also be obtained through the Ohio Benefit Bank.
- Legal assistance – The Family and Youth Law Center offers free legal advice statewide on issues related to family law, children services and kinship. Call 614-236-6730.
- Cash assistance – Apply at JFS and ask for “Child Only” TANF or Ohio Works First cash assistance. Eligibility is based on the child’s out-of-home status, not the caregiver’s income.
- Medicaid coverage – Eligibility is based on the child’s income. Children not already covered by a health insurance policy are likely eligible for a Medicaid card. This will be VERY valuable in meeting the needs of the child in your care.
- SNAP (Food Stamps) – This benefit is based on your household income and number of people living there.
- Child care subsidy and one-time support – The cost of child care can be one of the biggest barriers for kin. A new benefit, the Kinship Caregiver Support Program, is available through your local children services agency and may provide child care subsidies and other necessities for caregivers, such as cribs.
- Kinship Permanency Incentive Program – Financial supports are available for qualifying permanent kinship families (those with judicial custody). Learn more. Apply at your local children services agency. More than 7,100 children are supported by KPI.
- Grandparent Power of Attorney and Caregiver Affidavit forms – These forms assist grandparent caregivers who have physical custody of their grandchildren, but not judicially awarded custody. When properly completed, notarized and filed with the court, these forms assist grandparents in enrolling grandchildren in school and participating as the parent, as well as accessing routine and emergency medical and dental care. The revised forms do not expire, and if disagreements arise between grandparent caregivers and the parent, the grandparent can request a hearing in juvenile court and seek judicial custody. Download the caregiver power of attorney or the caretaker authorization affidavit.
Other Resources for Kin Caregivers
- NEW! Kinship Care: It Takes 100% Heart (Resources and Service Providers)
- Kinship Care Month is celebrated each September. Check out the latest kinship research and resources from the Children’s Bureau.
- Ohio’s “GrandFacts” Fact Sheet from Grandfamilies.org
- Ohio Grandparent/Kinship Coalition
- Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (KPI)
- Ohio Resource Guide for Relatives Caring for Children
- Family and Youth Law Center at Capital University Law School
- Ohio Family Care Association