the country, more than six million children -- approximately
1 in 12 children -- are living in households headed by grandparents
or other relatives. The District of Columbia has
more than 113,000 children living in households headed by grandparents
or other relatives. In many of these households, grandparents
and other relatives are the primary caregivers (“kinship caregivers”)
for children whose parents cannot or will not care for them
due to substance abuse, illness and death, abuse and neglect,
economic hardship, incarceration, divorce, domestic violence,
and other family and community crises.
at the Numbers: Kinship Care in North Carolina
The data below
show the numbers of grandparents who are living in households
with at least one grandchild under the age of 18, as well
as the numbers of grandparents who are the primary caregivers
for these grandchildren. These numbers were reported by the
2000 U.S. Census and are available for every place (as defined
by the U.S. Census Bureau) in the country, including cities,
towns, villages, and boroughs, on the U.S. Census website.*
Living in Households with One or More Own Grandchildren
Responsible for Meeting the Basic Needs of Grandchildren
are taken from the U.S. Census Bureau Table DP-2. Profile
Selected Social Characteristics: 2000.
Care Initiatives in North Carolina
In North Carolina,
public and private agencies and grassroots coalitions of grandparents
and other relative caregivers have begun working together
to expand the services available to kinship caregivers who
are caring for children outside of the foster care system.
the major kinship care programs and supports are listed below.
Additional support groups can be found through the AARP Grandparent
Information Center Database. Call 1-800-424-3410, e-mail information
requests to email@example.com, or search AARP’s online kinship
care support group database at http://www.aarp.org/grandparents/searchsupport/.
state and national kinship care resources and supports
are available on the Generations United website at http://www.gu.org,
and GrandsPlace at http://www.grandsplace.org and
Grandparent Again at http://www.grandparentagain.com,
two websites coordinated by grandparents raising grandchildren.
AARP also provides information for grandparents raising
grandchildren and other relative caregivers, including numerous
consumer education opportunities such as the AARP Grandparent
Raising Grandchildren Educational Program manual, a free newsletter
Parenting Grandchildren, and other publications. Contact:
Suzanne LaFollette-Cameron, Associate State Director, at (919)508-0269
Statewide Relatives as Parents
Program (RAPP) Grant: In 1997, North Carolina became one
of the first states to receive a grant from the Brookdale
Foundation’s Relatives as Parents Program (RAPP) to initiate
a statewide task force, interagency collaborations, and development
of local support groups. Recently, North Carolina Cooperative
Extension has joined the North Carolina Division of Aging
as a partner in the RAPP initiative. Contact: Dr. Luci Bearon,
Adult Development/Aging Specialist, at (919) 515-9146 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support Groups: The North Carolina Division of Aging has
encouraged the development of kinship care support groups
and is working with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension
and other organizations to create a network of these groups
across the state. Information on support groups can
be obtained at the Division of Aging’s website at http://www.dhhs.state.nc.us/aging/.
and Assistance: Regional Area Agencies on Aging have initiated
services, including information and assistance, support groups,
caregiver training and counseling, respite and supplemental
services for kinship care families. Contact: Christine
Urso, Family Caregiver Support Program Specialist, at (919)
733-3983 or visit the Division of Aging website at http://www.dhhs.state.nc.us/aging/.
Guide: The North Carolina Department of Health and Human
Services, Division of Aging, has compiled a comprehensive
resource guide for grandparents caring for their grandchildren.
Raising the Generations: A Resource Guide for Grandparents
Raising Grandchildren will be available in Fall 2002. Contact:
Lynne Berry, Legal Services Developer, at (919) 733-8395 or
and Training: The North Carolina Cooperative Extension
provides workshops and programs for grandparents and other
relatives raising children and for professionals. Contact:
Dr. Luci Bearon, Adult Development/Aging Specialist, at (919)
515-9146 or email@example.com. The CARES Program of the
UNC School of Social Work in Chapel Hill provides educational
services to professionals who work with kinship care families.
Contact: Linda Rahija at (919) 962-0650 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
and Supports: The GrandCare Program at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg
Senior Center serves more than 200 grandparent families in
Mecklenburg County. The program provides information,
referrals, support groups, court-related assistance, assistance
with necessary social and other services, educational workshops
for grandparents and other relatives raising children and
professionals, and community coalition-building and education.
Contact: Sue Korenstein, GrandCare Director, at (704) 522-6222,
ext.126 or email@example.com.
Care and North Carolina’s Foster Care System
children in the care of the states are placed in foster care
with grandparents or other relatives. In North Carolina,
the Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Social
Services (DSS) reports:
of children in kinship foster placements: In 2000, of
the 5,141 children who entered out-of-home placements under
DSS custody, 964 (18.8%) were placed with extended family
for kinship placements: The Division of Social Services
Manual states that “when children cannot be assured safety
in their own homes, the best alternative resource can often
be found within the extended family and other kin.” Additionally,
the juvenile court supervising the child’s case is required
to ascertain whether or not a relative is willing and able
to provide proper care and supervision for the child.
for kinship foster parents: There is no separate licensing
program for kinship foster parents. Kin have to meet
the same licensing standards and training requirements and
receive the same foster care payment rate as non-kin foster
parents. However, DSS may apply for a waiver of some requirements
of kin foster homes that do not affect the health and safety
of the child.
Guardianship: In addition to foster care payments and
other benefits available to kin raising children in the foster
care system, some states also have subsidized guardianship
programs. Under its Child Welfare Waiver Demonstration
Project, North Carolina has been able to offer a subsidized
guardianship program that provides subsidies (in the 19 eligible
counties) for eligible children who have been in DSS custody
for 12 months and have resided with the prospective legal
guardian for a least six months. To be eligible for
the program, reunification and adoption must be ruled out
as an option for the child. DSS also carefully assesses
the relationship between the caregiver and the child to determine
if the relationship is nurturing and stable enough to last
throughout the child’s minor years. Contact: Sandra
F. Sink, Title IV-E Waiver Project Coordinator, at (919) 733-5125
care contact: Questions about kinship foster placements
should be directed to David Atkinson at (919) 733-4622 or
and support for kinship foster parents: The North Carolina
State Foster Parent Association plays a significant role in
the training and support of kinship foster parents, including
helping DSS to recruit and retain foster parents and provide
guidance on their training needs. Visit http://www.ncfosterparents.org
for more information.
for North Carolina Kinship Care Families
by kinship caregivers are often eligible for a range of state
and federal programs. In most cases, kinship caregivers
may apply for these programs on a child’s behalf even though
they are not the child’s parents or legal guardians.
Some examples of these programs include:
Cash assistance may be available to children and their
grandparents and other relative caregivers through North Carolina’s
Work First program. It is also possible to submit a
“child only” application for Work First benefits. If
the request is made only for the child or children, the grandparent
or other kin is exempt from the work search requirements and
the time limitations. Kinship care families may also
be eligible for food stamps to help meet their children's
food and nutrition needs. For more information about these
programs, contact (919)733-7831, visit the Web site at http://www.dhhs.state.nc.us/dss/index.htm,
or contact your local county department of social services.
insurance: Grandparents and other relative caregivers
may apply for free or low-cost health insurance on behalf
of the children they are raising through the North Carolina
Health Check and Health Choice for Children programs.
In some cases, caregivers may also be eligible for free health
coverage under Medicaid. Contact Health Check at (919) 857-4019
or visit the website at http://www.dhhs.state.nc.us/dma/cpcont.htm.
kinship caregivers find it difficult to obtain services their
children need, such as medical care or education. In addition
to the state’s child guardianship and custody laws, the following
laws may be helpful to kinship caregivers1:
Consent (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 32A - 34): This law allows
a custodial parent or other legal custodian to authorize another
“adult in whose care the minor child has been living” to consent
to health care for a child through the use of a notarized
Consent (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 115C - 366): This law
allows an adult who is raising a child without legal custody
or guardianship to enroll that child in the school district
where that adult lives.
Guardianship (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 35A - 1370 et seq.):
This law states that a parent or legal guardian of a minor
may designate, in writing or by petition to the court, a stand-by
guardian to become legally responsible for the minor in the
event of the parent or legal guardian’s terminal illness,
debilitating illness, or future incapacitation.
for legal information related to kinship care: Lynne Berry,
NC Division of Aging, Legal Services Developer, at (919) 733-8395