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 Tennessee
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 Tennessee
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.
Support for Tennessee Kinship Care Families: The Tennessee
Department of Children's Services (DCS) has established the
Relative Caregiver Program for kinship caregivers who are
raising children who are in their physical and legal custody.
Funded by the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)
program, qualified relative caregivers may be eligible to
receive funds for up to four months, depending on need.
DCS has contracted with community-based agencies at three
sites across the state to provide services to kinship families
in sixteen counties. Services include individual and family
counseling, legal services, financial aid, respite, recreation,
homemaker services, support groups, training, concrete needs
and case management. Services to the children include child
care, a children's activity group, mentoring, tutoring, and
recreational activities. Contact: Elizabeth Black, Kinship
Care Program Coordinator, at (615) 532-5636 or email@example.com.
sites for the Relative Caregiver Program include:
Development District offers a variety of services in 14
counties- (Cannon, Clay, Cumberland, Dekalb, Fentress, Jackson,
Macon, Overton, Pickett, Putman, Smith, Van Buran, Warren
and White) to grandparents and other relatives who are raising
their kin's children. Services include case management, emergency
services, counseling, respite care, legal advice and counseling,
and support group activities. Upper Cumberland Development
only provides services to children who are in the legal custody
of the Department of Children Services. Contact: Patty Jones,
Program Director, at (931) 432-4111 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
of Tennessee Boling Center for Developmental Disabilities
provides emergency start-up services, counseling, respite
care, legal advice and counseling, and volunteer mentoring
for kinship care families. Homemaker services for caregivers
and monthly recreational groups on Saturdays are also provided.
The Center also provides a range of core services for children
with disabilities. The Center serves Memphis and Shelby Counties.
Contact: Juanita Williams, Program Director, at (901) 448-3926
& Children's Services Relative Caregiver Program provides
quarterly education sessions, monthly support group meetings,
family therapy services, and consultation and representation
by the Vanderbilt Legal Clinic. The educational group provides
speakers on various topics such as childhood and adolescent
development, loss and adjustment issues, parenting skills,
legal rights in the health care and welfare systems, issues
around drug and alcohol abuse, and stress management. The
support group is offered twice monthly. During the monthly
evening support group, a simultaneous Children's Therapeutic
Activity Group is facilitated by a social worker. Family
& Children's Services provides leadership in the development
of the groups, offers individual and family therapy at no
cost to the participants, and provides financial and material
assistance as needed. The program serves Davidson County.
Contact: Shalonda Cawthon, Director, at (615) 251-1211
Care Coalition: Tennessee State Kinship Advisory Board
was established in April 2002 by Tennessee's Department of
Children's Services and funded by The Brookdale Foundation.
The Advisory Board is comprised of a group of policy makers,
lawmakers, and relative caregivers who are working together
to build support for kinship families through out the state
of Tennessee. Contact: Elizabeth Black, Kinship Care Coordinator,
Department of Children's Services, at (615) 532-5636 or email@example.com
or Servella Terry, Family to Family Co-Coordinator, Department
of Children's Services, at (615) 532-5616 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
of Support Groups in Chattanooga: The Senior Neighbors-Relatives
As Parents Program (RAPP) of Chattanooga sponsors a network
of monthly support groups for kinship care families - one
at a senior center, one based in a large city elementary school,
and one at a rural Head Start center. RAPP provides recreational
and respite care activities for caregivers. Respite events
include holiday parties, brunches, field trips and a number
of Saturday afternoon "Book Club" meetings. RAPP also implemented
"Book Club" activities for children and adolescents. The program
serves Chattanooga and the surrounding areas. Contact:
Joyce Clem, Director of Intergenerational Program, at (423)
755-6105 or email@example.com.
Knox County Kinship Care Families: Knoxville's Knox County
Community Action Committee Office on Aging RAPP Program provides
bimonthly newsletters, support groups, transportation, group
recreational activities (field trips, plays and carnivals)
and computer training with internet access for kinship caregivers
in Knox County. Contact: Edna Eickman, Coordinator,
at (865) 524-2786 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
for Kinship Care Families: The Advocates for the
Aging offers a Relative Caregiver Program to kinship care
families in the Cookeville area. The program offers
support groups with speakers and counselors to address the
needs and concerns of the caregivers. It also provides
the families with emergency care and legal services.
The program assists the kinship caregivers with child care
expenses and provides the families with respite and recreational
activities. Contact: Lisa Carter, RAPP Coordinator,
at (931) 432-4111 or email@example.com.
for Kinship Care Providers: The McMinville Warren
County Senior Center offers the Warren County Relatives
as Parents Program (RAPP). The program provides kinship
caregivers with parenting classes and educational programs
that address issues regarding raising children today.
It also hosts social events and activities for the grandparents
and children to attend. Contact: Cheryl Mingle,
Executive Director, at (931) 473-6559 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Care and Tennessee’s Foster Care System
children in the care of the states are placed in foster care
with grandparents or other relatives. In Tennessee,
the Department of Children’s Services (DCS) reports:
of children in out-of-home placements: As of March 2002,
there were 9,330 children in out-of-home placements. Of these
children, 665 children (7.1%) were placed with relatives.
for kinship foster placements: State policy requires that
kin be considered first when an out-of-home placement is sought
for a child DCS’s care. There is an expedited approval
process for persons who have a prior existing relationship
to a child in state care. These persons may become fully
approved foster parents in a very short period of time.
for kinship foster parents: There are no separate approval
standards for kinship foster parents. Kin have to meet
the same approval process and requirements and receive the
same foster care payment rate as non-kin foster parents.
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. Most of these programs offer ongoing subsidies to
children who have left foster care to live permanently under
the legal custody or guardianship of relatives. Tennessee
currently does not have a subsidized guardianship program.
care contact: Questions about kinship foster placements
should be directed to Elizabeth Black, Kinship Care Coordinator,
Department of Children's Services, at (615) 532-5636 or
and support for kinship foster parents: Anyone interested
in becoming a foster parent, including kinship caregivers,
is required to attend a 30-hour pre-service training program
called PATH (Parents As Tender Healers). Contact: Elizabeth
Black, Kinship Care Program Coordinator, at (615) 532-5636
for Tennessee 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 the Family
First/TANF Program. 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, call 1- 888-863-6178 or log on to http://www.state.tn.us/humanserv/famfir.htm.
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 Tennessee Medicaid
and TENNCARE programs. In some cases, caregivers may
also be eligible for free coverage under Medicaid. For
more information about how to apply for Medicaid and TENNCARE,
call 1-800-669-1851 or log on to http://www.state.tn.us/tenncare.
currently does not have any state laws in effect specifically
directed at kinship care families.