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Supporting Kinship Caregivers or “Grandfamilies” in Ohio. Crystal Ward Allen, Executive Director Public Children Services Association of Ohio NACHSA Conference, December 2006. AGENDA. Definition of Kinship or “GrandFamilies” Benefits of Kinship Care Continuum of Kin Arrangements

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Supporting Kinship Caregivers or “Grandfamilies” in Ohio

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Supporting kinship caregivers or grandfamilies in ohio l.jpg

Supporting Kinship Caregivers or “Grandfamilies” in Ohio

Crystal Ward Allen, Executive Director

Public Children Services Association of Ohio

NACHSA Conference, December 2006


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AGENDA

  • Definition of Kinship or “GrandFamilies”

  • Benefits of Kinship Care

  • Continuum of Kin Arrangements

  • Ohio Policies for Kin

    • Basic supports

    • Kinship Navigator Program

    • Grandparent Caregiver Affidavit & Power of Attorney

    • New Kinship Permanency Incentive Program

  • Federal Policy Concerns & Opportunities


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What is Kinship Care?

  • Families with children lucky enough to be cared for by kin, when their own families cannot / do not, care for them

  • Kin families step up and temporarily or permanently raise these extended family children

  • Caregivers could be relatives or close family friends

  • Better outcomes for children


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Kinship Families are Unique

  • Different from birth families - did not plan on the responsibility to raise these kids, but agreed to when needed!

  • Different from unrelated foster caregivers – kinship is not a contractual business arrangement, they are family to kids

  • Different from unrelated adoptive families – often wary of hostile termination of parental rights process, but open to permanent commitment.


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Why Support Grandfamilies?

  • Facilitates Personal and Family responsibility

  • Reduces Government intervention

  • Society expects it

  • Better outcomes for children (than if left uncared for or placed with safe, but unrelated foster caregivers)

  • Fiscally sound policy in age of limited resources at local, state and federal level


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Who are Kinship Caregivers?

  • Grandparents

  • Other relatives - Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Siblings

  • Close family friends

  • 2005 US Census counted Grandparents raising Grandchildren – those as primary caregivers:

    • US – 2.4 Million

    • Ohio – 88,000 families, many sibling groups, but only GPs counted!

  • Grandfamilies!


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Better Child Outcomes

  • Compared to children in licensed, but unrelated foster care, children in Kinship Families have:

  • Greater placement stability (blood is thicker…)

  • Better school attendance

  • Better academic performance

  • Fewer community problems (i.e. unruly and delinquent incidents)


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What do Kinship Caregivers Need?

  • According to 1999 Ohio Dept of Aging “Grandparents Raising Grandchildren” report:

  • Financial assistance

  • Legal documentation for school enrollment and obtaining medical care

  • Affordable child care

  • Assistance accessing services

  • General emotional support


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Kinship Families Continuum

  • Informal Kinship Families – no government intervention needed

  • Kinship families caring for children involved with the child welfare system (unlicensed)

  • Kinship foster families (formally licensed as foster parents)

  • Legal guardians / custodians (with judicially awarded custody)

  • Kin families that have adopted


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Basic Kinship Supports in Ohio

  • Cash Assistance – TANF (Ohio Works First) Child Only Benefits - $245/month + $77/sibling. Unrelated to caregiver income or custody status

  • Medicaid Coverage – most all children in kinship care should qualify

  • Eligibility for Early Learning Initiative (ELI) – combines early childhood education with childcare for all day care. Without regard to income for preschoolers in kinship care.


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Legal Documentation

  • For Grandparents without judicial custody:

  • Caregiver Authorization Affidavit (CAA) – parent unable to be located

  • Power of Attorney (POA) – consensual agreement with parent and grandparent

  • Two primary functions:

  • School enrollment & participation

  • Obtaining medical, dental, psychological services


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…More CAA and POA

  • GP (and parent for POA) completes form, has it notarized, files with court

  • Good for one year, then re-file for renewal

  • At renewal request, Juvenile court to schedule “best interest” hearing, can continue CAA or POA, award legal custody to GP, or initiate dependency proceedings, bringing in child welfare agency

  • Limited to Grandparents, advocating to extend to other relative caregivers

  • Formal implementation evaluation in progress now so policy makers can make informed decisions


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Kinship Navigator Program

  • Professionals located at county level to help Kinship Caregivers “Navigate” thru existing state and local support services.

  • In child welfare agency, Area Agency on Aging, or other local entity

  • Often facilitate support groups too

  • TANF funding allowable…


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Three Paths to Move Children to Permanency (if child removed…)

  • Reunification w/ birth parent

  • Custody Award to Relative

  • Adoption

  • Ohio law – Guardianship & Legal Custody same status, by different courts (Probate vs Juvenile). Law includes language that Legal Custody is “intended to be permanent”, court will only review if status changes for caregiver or child (not birth parent).


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Kinship Permanency Incentive (KPI) Program

  • Incentive for Permanency

  • Financial payments to families with judicially awarded custody of kids in their care.

  • Three year duration, payments at six month intervals

  • Total $3,500 - $1,000 initially, then five $500

  • Funded with $10 Million/year TANF $


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Kinship Permanency Incentive Eligibility Criteria

  • Child must be abused, neglected, dependent or unruly

  • Court must have awarded custody (legal or guardianship) July 1, 2005 or later

  • Family low income (200% FPL, may up to 300%)

  • Child welfare agency completed site and safety audit

  • Criminal background check of all adults


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KPI since Jan. 1, 2006 launch

  • General Assembly strongly supported

  • Media strongly highlighted, endorsed

  • Brochures, posters out

  • Many families ineligible due to July 1, 2005 custody award threshold

  • Estimate 3,000 families/year will be eligible, but slow start. Making changes, based on data!

  • Evaluations in law – Dec. 31, 2008 (at three years) & Dec. 31, 2010 (at five years)


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Federal Policies & Concerns

  • Federal law requires relative search and preferential placement if safe; ASFA recognized relatives as permanency plan

  • New language in Deficit Reduction Act prohibits Title IV-E support for case management services to unlicensed caregivers:

    • Forces agencies to provide these services without federal support – OR –

    • Forces relatives to get licensed and enter into contractual business arrangement to raise extended family children

    • Will cost additional federal and state/local $


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Need Title IV-E Federal Support

  • Foster Care Maintenance

  • Adoptive Subsidies

  • Guardianship / Legal Custody Subsidies

    Why not?

  • Recommended by Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care


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Title IV-E Guardianship Waivers

  • To demonstrate positive child outcomes thru innovation, cost neutral

  • IV-E Guardianship Subsidies improve permanency for foster children

  • Nine states; Illinois’ long history, 6,800 kids

  • Good Safety & stability, shorter length of stay, positive youth and caregiver perspectives


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Policy Groups

  • Statewide Kinship Caregiver Advisory Council – multi-system members including caregivers and policymakers. Strategic Plan based on research

  • Ohio Grandparent & Kinship Caregiver Group – statewide group of caregivers and Kin Navigators

  • Local Kin Support Groups


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Next Steps

  • Informal - Expand Power of Attny & Caregiver Affidavit beyond Grandparents (Evaluation in process).

  • Financial Patch - Adjust Kinship Permanency Incentive eligibility requirements using eval data (only 3 years support..?...)

  • Federal finance reform - Title IV-E Guardianship Subsidies for permanent kinship families


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Resources…

  • Ohio Kinship Supports – http://www.pcsao.org/KinshipSupports.htm

  • Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care - http://www.pewfostercare.org

  • IV-E Guardianship Waiver Evaluations http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/programs_fund/cwwaiver/agissue/execsum.htm

  • Generations United http://ipath.gu.org/Grand8101303.asp

  • Fostering Results “Family Ties” - http://www.fosteringresults.org/results/reports/pewreports_10-13-04_alreadyhome.pdf


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