Grandparents and Other Relatives Raising Children: Supplemental Services
According to the U.S. Census 2000, more than six million children across the country are living in households headed by grandparents or other relatives1. The Census further found that nearly 5.8. million grandparents are living in households with one or more of their own grandchildren under the age of 18. More than 2.4 million of these grandparents are primarily responsible for meeting the basic needs of these children2. Factors such as parental substance abuse, incarceration, HIV/AIDS, death, and poverty are causing growing numbers of grandparents and other relatives to step forward and keep families together.
The National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP), a new program administered by the Administration on Aging (AoA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, offers 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. For more information about the NFCSP, please go to www.gu.org for a fact sheet and user guide about the program or to the AoA website at www.aoa.gov. The five categories of the NFCSP are written to be flexible and respond to the needs of the caregivers in the area being served. The fifth category, supplemental services, is particularly broad. It is not defined in the law and will not be further defined by the AoA. The intent is for this category to be extremely flexible, although it can only be used on a limited basis, not as an ongoing source of funding for a specific program. This fact sheet provides information about the NFCSP’s fifth category, supplemental services.
The following are types of assistance that are being provided under the category of supplemental services: legal services, transportation for support group meetings or for caregiver’s errands, meals and clothing, housekeeping services, home repairs and modifications, as well as supplies and athletic costs for children. Although many supplemental services may most logically be provided on the local level, statewide activities also should be considered. Several innovative state programs include:
Grandparents Parenting Again is a multi-service program for grandparents raising grandchildren in Sonoma County. Using supplemental services funds, they collaborate with the Superior Court Probate Division to provide an innovative legal clinic. The clinic offers grandparents free guardianship training that teaches them how to complete and file guardianship paperwork themselves. Many grandparents find that after attending the clinic, they do not need to hire an attorney for uncontested guardianships. For more information, contact Anne Pierce at (707) 566-8676 or email@example.com.
Northwestern Illinois AAA is committed to providing legal assistance to the families through its current legal service provider, Prairie State Legal Services. The AAA offers legal assistance to kinship caregivers who need help accessing school enrollment and public benefits and obtaining guardianships or adopting the related children they are raising. The AAA has also held several legal assistance workshops for grandparents and other relatives raising children led by an attorney and a behavioral health specialist. The lawyers offer one-on-one “legal check-ups” for caregivers at the end of each workshop and offer individual recommendations.
In addition, the Northwest Illinois AAA has set up an Emergency Fund to financially assist relative caregivers that cannot afford needed items for their families such as school supplies, clothing, diapers and beds. The fund may also be used to assist caregivers pursuing legal options such as guardianship. For more information, contact Eric Hoffman, Community Services Specialist, at (815) 226-4901 or (800) 542-8402 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Senior Volunteers and the Region IV AAA in Southwest Michigan provide “Family Fun” events four to five times a year during which caregivers and children from all three AAA counties participate. The senior volunteers, "Family Friends", help staff these events. In the past year, there have been programs at local nature centers, a children’s museum and the 7th Annual State-Wide Kinship Care Resource Center Picnic in Lansing with over 2,000 relative caregivers across Michigan attending. Family Fun events always include a meal, attendance incentives and mileage reimbursement. For more information, contact Camellia Pisegna, Director, Senior Volunteer Programs, at (616) 983-7058 or email@example.com.
The Clackamas County Aging and Disability Services offers various types of assistance under the category of supplemental services to relative caregivers with unique requests. For example the costs for a grandchild's educational tutoring, a membership to a community swimming pool and a grandchild's horseback riding lessons have been purchased using supplemental services funds. For more information, contact Maryanne Hard, Program Coordinator, at (503) 794-8065 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The South Dakota Office of Adult Services and Aging partners with the Office of Child Protection to offer services for grandparents and other relatives raising children. The Office of Child Protection contracts with social workers in the South Dakota school system to identify older relative caregivers. They offer cash assistance to grandparent and other relative caregivers through supplemental services for items such as children’s clothing and sports uniforms. For more information, contact Carla Leiferman, Program Specialist, at (605) 773-3656 or Carla.Leiferman@state.sd.us.
The Upper Cumberland Development District AAA in Tennessee is coordinating the provision of services through a variety of local agencies. For example, the attorney funded through Title III of the Older Americans Act is providing legal services to the families. The lawyer provides education on custody, adoption, public benefits, and other legal issues, and will provide representation in some individual cases. The families will also have access to mediation services, legal seminars, and Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) services.
In addition, the Area Agency on Aging and Disability (AAAD) is arranging for staff to participate in non legal services and assist with special events including picnics, and holiday gatherings. For more information, contact Nancy Peace, AAA Director, at (931) 432-4111 or email@example.com.
As defined, supplemental services in the NFCSP are intentionally broad and non-specific. This enables members of the aging network to draw on local knowledge of needs and opportunities to make the best possible use of the funds. Taking advantage of the non-specific language of the guidelines enables aging network members considerable degrees of freedom in best meeting the needs of the older relative caregiver populations they serve.
Reprinted with the permission of Generations United. © 2008 Generations United.
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