The Importance of Kinship Caregivers
July 6, 2017
In the United States there are currently more than 2.7 million children being raised by relatives, especially by grandparents. This number seems to grow daily due to the overwhelming challenges in today’s society. Many grandparents and other relatives have taken over the care of children because of substance abuse, incarceration, domestic violence, unemployment, divorce, illness, death and other crises facing families and communities.
These kinship caregivers face multiple challenges—the additional cost of caring for the children, the endless search for services, the fight to keep a family together, their own health needs, and planning a future for their children. Many times these hurdles seem too difficult to overcome.
However research shows that compared to other out-of-home placements, children in kinship care are more likely to “keep ties with family, experience less trauma at parental separation, have fewer educational disruptions and have fewer behavioral problems.”
There are many organizations and resources available to help caregivers as they take over the responsibilities of caring for children of family members. Caregivers need support in becoming and understanding they are the child’s advocate. Yet, it's also important for them to have someone on their side—someone to trust and guide them in this new and vital role.
If you find yourself in the role of a kinship caregiver, please, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Also, be persistent in getting the answers you need. Local groups can be wonderful resources. Here are some links to help you find assistance and support:
- Grandfamilies.org keeps a comprehensive sheet of resources for kinship caregivers in each state. Check out the fact sheet for Ohio or Kentucky.
- Kinship Families Coalition of Kentucky
- Ohio Grandparent/Kinship Coalition
- The Family Nurturing Center
This article was written for the July 2017 edition of Parent Source.