• September 2004
  • Vol. 5, No. 7

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Older Caregivers Raising Children

A collaboration between professionals in the fields of child welfare and aging has resulted in the development of public policy recommendations and a call to action regarding kinship care by elderly caregivers for children who might otherwise be in foster care. The New York Council on Adoptable Children, Inc., formed the Forging Connections Policy Group in 2002, bringing together professionals from the two fields; the culmination of their work, with support from the New York Community Trust, was published in the June 2004 report, Forging Connections: Challenges and Opportunities for Older Caregivers Raising Children.

This report identifies key areas where elderly caregivers face challenges, including economic hardship, the bureaucracy surrounding access to resources, health care challenges, and a cumbersome legal system. The report then makes recommendations for addressing these challenges. While 19 recommendations are offered, 5 are seen as paramount:

  • Educate elderly caregivers about resources, services, and supports.
  • Involve elderly caregivers in planning for a child's future.
  • Create subsidized guardianship programs.
  • Inform judges, attorneys, and others working with elderly caregivers of the unique needs facing these families.
  • Train caseworkers about the financial needs of and the entitlements available to elderly caregivers.

The report also includes a list of national resources for elderly caregivers and those who provide services, as well as an extensive bibliography. Access it at http://www.coac.org/Espanol/pdf/Forging_Connections.pdf.

Related Items

The National Abandoned Infants Assistance Resource Center recently published a factsheet, Kinship Care, that discusses the definition and incidence of such care, State and Federal policies, the relationship between substance abuse and kinship care, characteristics of caregivers and the children for whom they provide care, and available services. The factsheet can be downloaded from http://aia.berkeley.edu/media/pdf/kinship_care_factsheet_2004.pdf.

The Federal Government maintains a web page that serves as link to other government resources on grandparents raising grandchildren. This can be found at www.firstgov.gov/Topics/Grandparents.shtml.

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