2.7 million children are in kinship care on any given day in the United States.
Kinship caregivers are either extended family members or close family friends who take care of kids in their parents’ absence.
Rob Geen, Director of Family Services and Systems Policy at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, says often these caregivers are taking care of children without much advance notice. He says making their lives ready to be able to care for the kids is a challenge.
Geen says many times, kinship caregivers do not have legal authority to make medical or educational decisions for kids. He says giving kinship caregivers that authority is just one recommendation the foundation makes in its new Kids Count report.
"The second step in supporting kinship care families is increasing the chances that they get all the support they are already eligible to receive. Most relatives and other kin are simply not aware that there are supports available to them. We do a very poor job of communicating with kin about the support available to them. We usually communicate with the families that we think of.”
Geen says the third step is to take a look at the existing safety net programs and see if they need to be adjusted to serve these unique families. For more information on assistance available for kinship caregivers, the website is www.gu.org.