All children deserve a safe and nurturing place to call home. Sometimes children are unable to stay in their home with their parents for a variety of reasons such as parental death, parental substance abuse, military deployment, abuse and neglect, serious physical or mental health issues, and disability. During these difficult times grandparents and other relatives often step in to provide care for these children, known as kinship care.
Currently about 59,000 or 6 percent of all children in Kentucky are being raised by extended family members. While beneficial for children, kinship care can pose considerable financial, legal and emotional challenges for the caregivers. Many children in kinship care have been exposed to trauma and are more likely to have behavioral and mental health needs. Kinship caregivers are also more likely to be poor, single, older, less-educated and unemployed. With the number of children being care for by kin nearly doubling over the past decade, we cannot afford to let these families go unsupported. Kentucky Youth Advocates works on policies to support kinship families to help children have the best outcomes.
Caregiver’s Authorization Affidavit
The Caregiver’s Authorization Affidavit serves as a template for caregivers without legal custody to get the authorization needed to address the educational and/or medical needs of the children they are caring for. The form was created in order to help relative caregivers easily create an affidavit on their own, without having to consult an attorney. If you or someone you know is caring for a relative child and could benefit from the use of this form, please click here for the model affidavit and further information.
- In 2014, Kentucky Youth Advocates led the successful passage of SB 176 – a kinship caregiver authorization law. SB 176 allows a relative caregiver to complete an affidavit, under penalty of perjury, stating that they are the primary caregiver of the child, and then by presenting the form they can authorize health care treatment, educational services, and school enrollment. Read a story of a grandmother in Fayette County to understand how SB 176 will help.
- Kentucky Youth Advocates is helping to form a coalition to raise awareness of the issues surrounding kinship families in Kentucky and forward recommendations for policy changes to increase supports for kinship families. For more information about this coalition, contact Patricia Tennen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Kentucky Youth Advocates is working with partners to restore funding and expand the types of supports offered through the Kinship Care Program which provides financial support to grandparents and other relatives who are raising children because they cannot live safely with their parents. As of April 2013, no new families can participate in the program. This is a serious blow to the minimal support system for kinship families and could lead to more children being placed in foster care.
- In 2013, Kentucky Youth Advocates surveyed kinship support providers, interviewed key leaders and facilitated focus groups with kinship caregivers to assess the challenges kinship families face in Kentucky. The report Increasing Supports for Kinship Families in Kentucky summarizes what was heard and recommendations for addressing the obstacles kinship families encounter.
- Kentucky Youth Advocates has been collecting photo messages from kinship caregivers across the state to help raise awareness of their needs and build support among policymakers to increase supports for kinship families. See our collection of messages here.