A new report by Generations United found that almost 65 percent of children in grandfamilies, or kinship care, live in states with only half or less of the key laws and policies designed to support them. Yet nationally the numbers of children placed in foster care with relatives increased from 24 percent in 2008 to 28 percent in 2013. The top 10 states – California, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Montana, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Texas and Washington – met Generations United’s criteria for grandfamily-friendly laws and policies.
“Children belong in families. When they cannot remain with their parents, the comfort of a grandparent, aunt or cousin eases the trauma of separation,” said Donna Butts, executive director of Generations United. “Compared to children in non-relative care, children being raised by relatives do better. They have more stability, are more likely to maintain connections with brothers and sisters and preserve their cultural heritage and community bonds. Supportive policies help give caregivers the tools they need to ensure children thrive.”
All states had at least one supportive law or policy for grandfamilies. No state scored 100 percent and had all of the laws and policies recommended. Only three states secured a passing grade of 60 percent and above.
“A comprehensive package of supportive state laws and policies is required to meet the diverse and unique needs and circumstances of grandfamilies,” said Jaia Peterson Lent, deputy executive director of Generations United. “The goal of our report is to elevate top states in key areas and encourage policymakers, advocates and leaders in those and all states to do more to support the families.”
The report offers recommendations to help guide the development of supportive federal and state policies and services for grandfamilies. They include:
- Prioritizing and empowering relatives to make informed decisions
- Providing access to preventative services to relatives outside of the formal foster care system
- Ensuring adequate supports to keep children with relatives
- Promoting tailored services for the unique needs of grandfamilies
Generations United will release The 2015 State of Grandfamilies in America report tomorrow, Dec. 3 at a reception from, 5:30pm to 7:30pm, in room 902 of the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Generations United will honor Senator Ron Wyden with its 2015 Grandfamilies Champion Award at the event. They will also award nationally-syndicated Washington Post columnist Michelle Singletary the Generations United 2015 Media Award.
The report, which also includes a resource list and profiles of grandfamilies and innovative programs, will be available at www.gu.org on Thursday morning, Dec. 3. For an advanced copy, contact Alan King at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Generations United: For nearly three decades, Generations United has been the catalyst for policies and practices stimulating cooperation and collaboration among generations, evoking the vibrancy, energy and sheer productivity that result when people of all ages come together. We believe that we can only be successful in the face of our complex future if generational diversity is regarded as a national asset and fully leveraged. The National Center on Grandfamilies is a critical part of Generations United’s mission and strives to enact policies and promote programs that support relative caregivers and the children they raise. www.gu.org