Policy

Articles in this section discuss federal and state policy related to kinship care. Some serve as a critique of current policy aimed at kinship care while others provide key policy recommendations to strengthen support of kinship care.

1. Annie E. Casey Foundation. (2012). Stepping Up For Kids: What Government and Communities Should Do to Support Kinship Families. Baltimore, http://www.aecf.org/m/resourcedoc/AECF-SteppingUpForKids-2012.pdf

In this report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, key recommendations for policies and services for kinship families are discussed. Among these recommendations include strengthening the economic security of kinship families and increasing their access to quality legal, health and education services.

2. Ayón, Cecilia, Eugene Aisenberg, and Andrea Cimino. “Latino families in the nexus of child welfare, welfare reform, and immigration policies: Is kinship care a lost opportunity?.” Social Work 58, no. 1 (January 2013): 91-94.

This article cites the rapidly growing number of Latino children in the child welfare system as an indicator the necessity for kinship policy aimed at the needs of the U.S. Latino population. The authors argue that kinship care aligns with Latino family culture and the often increased stability it brings to children’s lives is a positive thing as it can also to keep them out of the system. However, they insist that child welfare policies have largely failed to adequately deal with the complex issues facing the Latino community: including mixed documentation status in families, high rate of poverty and cultural ideas and practices. They propose a reform of kinship licensing policy and the development of culturally sensitive practice and policy as solution to this problem.

3. Baker, Lindsey A., Merril Silverstein, and Norella M. Putney. “Grandparents raising grandchildren in the United States: Changing family forms, stagnant social policies.” Journal of societal & social policy 7 (2008): 53.

Research concerning how American social welfare policy has not been able to adequately address a fundamental change in family structure: grandparents raising grandchildren. The authors provide and outline of the phenomenon of grandfamilies in the U.S. (as a “natural duty and public good”). They also provide two macro-level theoretical perspectives in social gerontology to analyze the inadequacies in current social policies in the U.S. for grandfamilies.

4. Center, Family Strengthening Policy. “Strengthening grandfamilies through respite care.” Washington, DC: National Human Services Assembly. Family Strengthening Policy Center 20 (2007).

This article serves as an overview of Respite Care as a service and the benefits it provides for grandfamilies. It also outlines the role of state and federal policy in Respite Care and how policy makers at both levels can increase for respite care for grandfamilies.

5. Copen, Casey E. “Welfare reform: challenges for grandparents raising grandchildren.” Journal of aging & social policy 18, no. 3-4 (2006): 193-209.

This article looks at the effects of TANF on the growing population of grandfamilies who utilize it. The author provides a brief overview of the socio-economic demographics of grandparent caregivers which then leads to a discussion of welfare reform policy. The importance of welfare legislation reform centered on healthcare, education and housing for benefiting grandfamilies and the need for lawmakers to consider the impact of welfare reform on grandfamilies

6. Goelitz, Jeffrey C. “Answering the call to support elderly kinship caregivers.” Elder LJ 15 (2007): 233.

This article serves as both a review of the definitions of kinship care and the common circumstances that surround it, (i.e. child neglect and/or abuse, parental substance use, parental incarceration, etc.) as well as an argument in favor of positive Congressional action on policies that would support grandfamilies. The author calls for federal legislation to increase resources and information for kinship caregivers along with legislation that would expand the statutory definition of kinship caregivers to include close family friends and relax the standards for kinship licensing.

7. Geen, Rob. “The evolution of kinship care policy and practice.” The future of children (2004): 131-149.

Although kinship care has increasingly become a preferred alternative to foster care across the country, the majority of federal and state policy have been slow to support this growing demographic. The author discusses the challenges kinship families face because of the haphazard evolution of licensing policy and practices. He argues that since kinship caregivers tend to be older, many are grandparents, have lower incomes, poor health and less education than non-kin foster parents, they are in need of policy that better serves their specific needs.

8. Generations United. (2014). State of Grandfamilies in America: 2014. Washington, D.C. http://www.gu.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=yfGpYQNMuxk%3d&tabid=565&mid=1182

In this annual report released by Generations United, the general wellbeing of grandfamilies living in the U.S. in the year 2014 is assessed. The report provides an overview of the kinds of supports and services available to grandfamilies is outlined and also gives policy recommendations to further help grandfamilies, which include prioritizing family-based care when children are removed from their parents’ home, and having states remove unnecessary barriers that make it difficult for safe and appropriate families to obtain foster licensure.

9. Generations United. (2015). State of Grandfamilies in America: 2015. Washington, D.C. http://www.gu.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=nv03BXVlGAI%3d&tabid=157&mid=606

In this annual report released by Generations United, the general wellbeing of grandfamilies living in the U.S. in the year 2015 is assessed. The report includes relevant national statistics on grandfamilies in addition to stories about individuals and communities who have benefited from services and supports geared toward grandfamilies. Furthermore key policy recommendations to strengthen grandfamilies are made: including the need to focus on prevention services that would keep children out of the foster care system and put them into the care of safe and stable family members.

10. 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.

11. Smith, Carrie Jefferson, and Ana Beitranm. “The role of federal policies in supporting grandparents raising grandchildren families: The case of the US.” Journal of Intergenerational Relationships 1, no. 2 (2003): 5-20.

This article provides a demographic description of grandfamilies, the challenges they face, and explores the most effective federal public policies aimed at helping them. The authors stress the importance of incorporating an intergenerational agenda into federal public policy as the best way to assist grandfamilies. In general they cite the rise in grandfamilies and the greater public attention they are receiving as an opportunity to redefine rigid age-based public policies.