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 Virginia
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 Virginia
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.
and Services for Kinship Caregivers: The Virginia Department
for the Aging’s Kinship Care Initiative is a statewide information
and support network for older Virginians raising children.
Sponsored by the Brookdale Foundation’s Relatives as Parents
Program (RAPP), the Initiative offers support groups and information
for relatives serving as parents. It also works closely
with other state agencies and private organizations to meet
the service needs of kinship care families. One of these
groups, the Virginia Cooperative Extension, has developed
a curriculum and lecture series entitled Grandparents Raising
Grandchildren: Rights and Responsibilities. Also, the Department
for the Aging has published Grandparents Caring for Grandchildren:
A Resource Guide to direct kinship care families to available
services. Contact: Ellen Nau, Virginia Department for the
Aging, at (804) 662-9340 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support for Kinship Care Families: Catholic Charities
of Hampton Roads, Inc. is an organization that offers a number
of non-denominational support services for relatives raising
children, including a Relatives as Parents Program and numerous
support groups. Using trained facilitators and guest
speakers, Catholic Charities provides legal support and lectures
on working with the education and social welfare systems,
dealing with children as teenagers, and other relevant issues.
Catholic Charities also offers a kinship care information
and referral service. The organization has locations
throughout the Greater Hampton Roads area. Contact:
Joni Fonts, Relative as Parents Program, at (757) 625-2568
Services for Kinship Caregivers: In Lee, Scott, and Wise counties
and in the city of Norton, Mountain Empire Older Citizens
Inc.’s KinCare Program helps kinship caregivers with a wide
range of social service needs in collaboration with other
community and faith-based organizations. KinCare provides
monthly support groups for caregivers with free child care
and transportation as needed. KinCare provides referral
services, counseling, lectures by experts, social activities
for the caregiver and the children they are raising, and a
monthly newsletter. To become a member of KinCare, a
caregiver must meet with a staff case manager for a detailed
intake interview to identify the specific needs of the caregiver
and to locate community and agency resources and support to
meet these needs, whether financial, medical, housing, or
other. KinCare also offers clothing, food, toys, supplies,
counseling and other provisions to families in need.
Contact: Carol Moore, KinCare Program, at (276) 523-4202 or
Grandparents as Parents Support Group Network: Brighton’s
Solid Rock, Inc. offers a number of kinship caregiver support
groups throughout the Portsmouth area. The groups are
run in the local elementary schools. Based on the popular
demand of the groups, Brighton’s Solid Rock plans to have
a support group in all 17 Portsmouth elementary schools by
the end of 2002. Many of the groups also offer children’s
activities during the meetings. Contacts: Reverend Clifford
Barnett or Suzette Leathers, Brighton’s Solid Rock, Inc.,
at (757) 393-0570 or email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Virginia Caregiver Supports: Three well-established support
groups offer resources and information for kinship care families
in Northern Virginia. The Grandparent Support Group
at Lane Elementary School in Alexandria offers monthly support
groups for kinship caregivers throughout the school year in
the Alexandria, Fairfax, and Springfield areas. Contact: Ellen
Rachlis at (703) 924-7700. The Grandparent Support Group
at St. Mary’s Catholic Church and the Kinship Care Support
Group at Sunrise of Falls Church also offer information and
referrals as well as help in navigating the court system.
Contact: Sophia Powers at (703) 536-4537.
to Caregivers Raising Children with HIV/AIDS: CANDII:
The Children’s AIDS Network Designed for Interfaith Involvement
offers services primarily to children, teens and their caregivers
dealing with HIV/AIDS. CANDII offers a respite program,
day care, support groups with transportation and child care
and individual and group counseling services for children,
“at risk” teens who are pregnant, runaway, or in need of other
direct support, and kinship caregivers. CANDII serves
Norfolk, Hampton Roads, Newport News, Chesapeake, Portsmouth,
and Virginia Beach. Contact: Stacie Walls Beegle, CANDII,
at (757) 640-0929 or email@example.com.
and Virginia’s Foster Care System
children in the care of the states are placed in foster care
with grandparents or other relatives. In Virginia, the
Department of Social Services reports:
of children in kinship foster placements: As of December
31, 2001, 7,596 children were in out-of-home placements under
the Department’s supervision. Of these children, 300 children
(4%) were placed with kin.
for kinship placements: State policy requires that kin
be considered first when an out-of-home placement is sought
for a child under the Department’s care.
for kinship foster parents: Kin have to meet the same
licensing standards 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 foster
care, 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. Virginia currently does
not have a subsidized guardianship program.
care contact: Questions about kinship foster placements
should be directed to Therese Wolf, Foster Care Policy Specialist,
at (804) 692-1272 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
services for kinship foster parents: Greater Richmond
SCAN (Stop Child Abuse Now) provides a support group for relatives
raising kin who are in foster care or at risk of entering
the foster care system. The support group meets bi-weekly.
Caregivers receive information on related topics, such as
parenting skills, and have access to an array of community
resources. Child care is available during the support
groups. Contact: Jeanine Harper, Executive Director,
at (804) 257-7226 or email@example.com or Amy Strite, Assistant
Director, at (804) 257-7226 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
for Virginia 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 Virginia’s Temporary
Assistance for Needy Families (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 (804) 692-1900
or log on to http://www.dss.state.va.us/benefit/index.html.
insurance: Grandparents and other relative caregivers
may apply for free or low-cost health insurance on behalf
of the children they are raising through Virginia’s Medicaid
or Family Access to Medical Insurance Security (FAMIS) Plan.
In some cases, caregivers may also be eligible for free coverage
under the Medicaid plan. For more information about
how to apply for these programs, call 1-877-VA-CMSIP or log
on to http://188.8.131.52/child_health/FAMIS/FAMIS.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 (Va. Code § 54.1-2969): This law allows a
custodian, conservator, or other person standing in loco parentis
to authorize medical treatment or surgery for a minor who
has been separated from the custody of his parent or guardian.
Guardianship (Va. Code § 16.1-349 – 352): This law
authorizes a parent to designate an alternate or “standby
guardian” to act temporarily on the parents’ behalf regarding
the child’s personal care, custody, and support in the event
that his or her parent becomes debilitated or dies.