Monday, January 8, 2018

Kinship Care - Grandparents Raising Children

Kinship care is the full-time care, nurturing, and protection of children by relatives, stepparents, godparents, or any adult who has a kinship bond with a child.  This type of care has existed since the beginning of families, and historically, the idea of relatives (other than direct parents) helping to care for children was commonplace.  Today, many families are still utilizing this form of care, with numbers on the rise.  

In Michigan alone, there are 66,738 grandparents who are primary caregivers for their grandchildren.  The reasons for these large numbers are varied and diverse, but some reasons may include:

  • deployment of parents in the military
  • parental mental/physical illness or substance abuse
  • death of a parent
  • poverty; the parent's work requirements
  • incarceration
  • family violence, a relative's concern for health, safety, and well-being of the child
Grandparents may feel strongly about keeping their families together and kinship care offers greater stability for children.  Receiving care from someone with a familiar face offers children many benefits, especially when turbulent life changes may be occurring.  But what about the grandparents that are supporting the children?  The responsibilities of caring for children the "second time around," can be taxing - physically, emotionally, and financially. 

Help is available.  

Through the Michigan State University - Kinship Care Education Center, grandparents can receive information on legal issues and referrals, find education opportunities on child development, view webinars, print resource guides and brochures, and sign up to receive an electronic newsletter.  

Locally, the Jackson County Department on Aging - Caregiver Support Program offers a caregiver support group, counseling, education, and unmet needs assistance.  

In addition, the Legal Hotline for Michigan Seniors offers free advice on kinship care issues for Michigan residents 60 years and older.  The toll-free number is 1-800-347-5297.

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