Grandparents and Other Relatives Raising Children: Information and Assistance Services (page 2)
According to the U.S. Census 2000, more than six million children across the country are living in households maintained by grandparents or other relatives.1 More than 2.4 million grandparents have the primary responsibility for meeting the basic needs of these children.2 Factors such as parental substance abuse, incarceration, HIV/AIDS, death, poverty, and even military
deployments are causing growing numbers of grandparents and other relatives to step forward to keep families together.
The National Family Caregiver Support Program
The National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP)3 was created in 2000 as an addition to the Older Americans Act (OAA). Administered by the Administration on Aging (AoA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the NFCSP calls for all states, working in partnership with Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) and local community-service providers to offer five categories of support services for grandparents and other relatives aged 60 and older who are relative caregivers of children, and family caregivers of individuals aged 60 and older .4
The five categories of support services include:
- Information to caregivers about available services;
- Assistance to caregivers in gaining access to the services;
- Individual counseling, organization of support groups, caregiver training;
- Respite care; and
- Supplemental services to complement care provided by caregivers.5
Information and Assistance Services
Information and Assistance (I&A) services are provided through the first two categories of the NFCSP. They are intended to help caregivers determine their needs, find information about available services, and gain access to the most appropriate services available. Information and assistance systems are the vital link between caregivers who need services and those individuals in the community who can provide them.
Growing numbers of grandparents and other relatives raising children need relevant and specific information. Relative caregivers must deal with complicated systems of child welfare, education, health care, and the aging network. They must traverse issues related to maintaining financial resources for the children in their care, enrolling the children in school, accessing health care and insurance, and obtaining adequate housing.
Grandparents and other relatives raising children are in a particularly unique situation in that they may be able to access services from both the aging network and agencies serving children. Twenty-nine percent of grandparent caregivers
are over the age of 60.6 Therefore, they may have access to services through the NFCSP. Further, relative caregivers of all ages may also be able to access aging network services available through other funding sources, in addition to services
available through agencies serving children. However, caregivers often need help understanding what services are available and whether they qualify as they face many overlapping federal and state programs and different eligibility requirements.
National non-profits, government agencies, State Offices/Units on Aging (SUA), Area Agencies on Aging (AAA), and other state and local service providers operate I&A programs to help relative-maintained families. This factsheet highlights specific national I&A services, which can be accessed by relative caregivers, from around the country. It also describes innovative state
and local I&A programs, which may serve as model state programs.
National Information & Assistance Resources for Relative Caregivers
Generations United (GU)- GU is the only national non-profit membership organization whose mission is to promote intergenerational public policies, strategies, and programs. GU’s National Center on Grandparents and Other Relatives Raising Children provides training and technical assistance to the aging network and other service providers. GU’s Center works with providers to implement and design services for relative caregivers. GU also offers its own user-friendly publications and other materials, including state fact sheets, which are a collaborative effort to identify relative caregiver support services in each state. For further information, contact GU, 202-289-3979 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. GU’s website is www.gu.org.
AARP Grandparent Information Center (GIC)- The GIC provides information about services and programs that can help improve the lives of grandparent-headed households including Spanish-language publications. Grandparents and other relatives raising children can search the National Database of Grandparent Support Groups at www.aarp.org/grandparents/searchsupport for a support group near them. For further information, contact the GIC at
601 E Street NW, Washington, DC 20049, 800-434-3410 or email email@example.com. The AARP website is www.aarp.org/grandparents.
The Brookdale Foundation Relatives As Parents Program (RAPP)-RAPP is a national network of support groups for relatives raising children informally. RAPP offers seed grants to local and state agencies and currently has programs in 45 states. RAPPs create collaborative partnerships with community organizations and other service systems to ensure that relative
caregivers obtain information about available services in a number of ways, including: educational forums and seminars; resource directories; newsletters with information on legal issues, legislation, health and available benefits; community trainings; local and state conferences on relative caregiving; websites; and chat rooms. For further information, contact Brookdale at 950 Third Avenue, 19th Floor, New York, New York 10022, 212-308-7355. The Brookdale Foundation website is www.brookdalefoundation.org.
The Children’s Defense Fund (CDF)- CDF provides information and resources on issues facing children raised by relatives, inside and outside of the child welfare system, with special emphasis on how community and faithbased organizations can support these families. CDF's publications, including guides directed to caregivers covering issues such as the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), are available on its website. For further information, contact CDF at 25 E Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001, 202-628-8787. CDF’s website is www.childrensdefense.org.
The Eldercare Locator- The Eldercare Locator is a national toll-free service of the Administration on Aging that helps caregivers and older persons find necessary, convenient services and resources in their own communities or throughout the country. Anyone from around the country can call the toll-free number, 800-677-1116, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.- 8 p.m., (Eastern
Time). Additionally, an on-line version of the Eldercare Locator, www.eldercare.gov, provides users with 24-hour access to community assistance resources for seniors. By using the county, city name, or zip code of the person in need of assistance, users can access databases containing general agencyinformation, hotlines, and special services offered by state or area agencies on aging, tribal organizations, community organizations, or private organizations. For further information, the AoA’s website is www.aoa.gov.
Grand Parent Again- The Grand Parent Again website offers information about education, legal support, support groups, and other organizations for grandparents raising grandchildren. The website is www.grandparentagain.com.
GrandsPlace- The GrandsPlace website is www.grandsplace.com. It is dedicated to supporting grandparents and other relatives raising children. It is open to members and non-members of GrandsPlace, and provides opportunities for grandparents to offer comments and gather information.
National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (NACCRRA)- NACCRRA is the national network of communitybased childcare resource and referral agencies. For further information, contact NACCRRA at 1319 F. Street, NW, Suite 500, Washington, DC 20004-1106, 202-393-5501. The NACCRRA website is www.naccrra.net.
National Council on the Aging (NCOA) BenefitsCheckUp- NCOA’s BenefitsCheckUp is a free Internet-based service to help all older Americans and their families, including relative-headed families, identify state and federal assistance programs. The service is confidential, and takes only a few minutes to complete. Visit www.benefitscheckup.org
211- Although not available nationwide, the 2-1-1 program is designed to be the national abbreviated dialing code for free access to health and human services information and referral when finally operational. While services that are offered through 2-1-1 vary from community to community, 2-1-1 provides callers with information about and referrals to human services for every day needs and times of crisis. Proposed federal legislation would authorize $200 million annually to assist states with implementing and sustaining 2-1-1 statewide.
Reprinted with the permission of Generations United. © 2008 Generations United.
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