Legal Options and Issues

Articles in this section discuss the various legal options and issues associated with kinship care.

1. Esq, Wallace, and W. Gerard. “A FAMILY RIGHT TO CARE: CHARTING THE LEGAL OBSTACLES.” GrandFamilies: The Contemporary Journal of Research, Practice and Policy 3, no. 1: 7.

This article provides an overview of the functions of both state and federal law in regards to kinship care.  It discusses the ways in which inconsistencies in federal and state policy, inadequate social policy and narrowly-focused laws spur significant legal obstacles for grandfamilies. The article argues for changes in state and federal laws to provide more legal rights and assistance to kinship families by outlining the rights of these families to care for children.

2. Meara, Kathleen. “What’s in A Name? Defining and Granting A Legal Status to Grandparents Who Are Informal Primary Caregivers of Their Grandchildren.” Family Court Review 52, no. 1 (2014): 128-141.

This article discusses the various challenges informal grandparent caregivers face because of their lack of legal recognition: including consenting for their grandchild’s educational and medical needs and receiving government financial assistance. Furthermore, as many of these types of grandparent-caregivers live on a fixed or limited income like social security, current government assistance programs often fail to adequately provide financial support for grandfamilies. The author of this article proposes a key solution for states to better provide legal status for grandparents raising grandchildren. The solution entails all states adopting a de facto custodianship statute to create a legal status for grandparents informally raising their grandchildren so they can provide for the child’s needs and receive financial assistance.

3. Pittman, Lashawnda. “How Well Does the” Safety Net” Work for Family Safety Nets?: Economic Survival Strategies Among Grandmother Caregivers in Severe Deprivation.” RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences 1, no. 1 (2015): 78-97.

This article focuses on poor African American grandmothers and the challenges they face in providing for their grandchildren because of the lack of legal protection that exist for SGHs (skipped generation households). The author analyzes qualitative data obtained by fifty-eight African American grandmothers raising grandchildren in households and argues that policy that limits grandmothers’ access to government safety net programs further exasperates the deprivation of their families.