Kinship care is age old tradition. Families have been helping raise relative's children throughout the generations. Whether because of military service, illness or death of the parents, incarceration, or inability of the birth parents to protect and care for the children; families have stepped up to take care of children...it is what we do, when we can.
In Virginia, there are an estimated 70,000 kinship families. There are basically three forms of kinship care:
- Most relatives, are carrying for children only temporarily or with the parent living in the home and, therefore, do not take legal custody of the children and the children are NOT eligible for any government program or services, unless the whole family is eligible based on their whole income.
- Some relatives have taken legal custody of the children and are then able to receive minimal government support for the children, such as Medicaid and TANF, child only payments, when the child has NO income. If the kinship caregivers both work, then child care is also available.
- An even smaller number of relatives get approved as foster homes (Kinship Foster Care) in order to provide care for a relative's child who has been removed from the birth parents as a result of abuse or neglect allegations or findings. In the case of Kinship Foster Care, the local social services department retains the legal custody of the child and is in control of the placement decisions. The relative will receive foster care payments and services, but does not have the right to retain the placement without the consent of the local social services department.
Kinship Caregivers often struggle with the financial impact of providing care for a relative's child, but it is more than that as these relatives are faced with a change in the family order as grandma becomes mother to the child, for example. These same relatives are also faced with the changing social dynamics of raising children now as opposed to the social environment when they raised their children. Health concerns and lack of support are also among the challenges for relatives.
FACES of Virginia Families recognizes these challenges and makes every attempt to assist families with navigating the system and identifying community resources. In addition, FACES works to change laws and policies and help identify funding streams and strategies that could have a positive impact in the long run. WE are families helping families, and we hope we can offer support to your family as you navigate Kinship Care in Virginia.