Kinship programs offer support to grandparents raising grandchildren

Thursday, November 20, 2014


Grandparents across the country are becoming parents again.

According to a report issued in October by the US Census Bureau, about 3 percent of all US households include grandparents living in the same home as their grandchildren. We hear a lot about multi-generational households – specifically older adults living with and receiving care from their adult children. But there’s another type of multi-generational household – those in which the grandparent runs the household and has primary responsibility for the children who live there. This is often referred to as Kinship Care.

According to the census report:

  • About 10 percent of all children live with a grandparent
  • Just over half of these children receive some form of public assistance
  • 4.2 million households include grandparents living with grandchildren. More than 60 percent of these households were maintained by the grandparent (1 in 3 grandparent-maintained households had no parent present)
  • About 2.7 million grandparents were “grandparent caregivers” (those who had primary responsibility for children under the age of 18)

In Ohio, 217,143 grandparents share a home with their grandchildren (3.2 percent of Ohio households) and just over 48 percent of these grandparents have responsibility for their grandchildren. Among grandparents who are responsible for grandchildren in the same household, one out of every five live in poverty.

According to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Kinship Care refers to an arrangement in which a relative (or any non-relative) adult who has a long-standing relationship or bond with the child and/or family, has taken over the care of a child whose parents are unable or unwilling to do so. In many cases, grandparents – even great-grandparents – fill this role.

While the responsibility of raising a grandchild can be rewarding, it can also be challenging – especially for an older adult who also may be caring for an aging spouse or managing their own health problems. Fortunately, a growing number of resources are available for grandparents and other older adults who find themselves in this situation – everything from health insurance coverage for the children they care for, to legal help and financial assistance for providing kinship care.

But where can kinship caregivers turn for help in finding and connecting to these resources? The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services publishes a Resource Guide for Relatives Caring for Children (updated June 2014).

Topics covered in the guide include:

  • What is kinship care
  • Caring for abused, neglected or abandoned children
  • Finding help with expenses
  • Finding help with medical expenses for caregivers AND care recipients
  • Finding help with educational services
  • Finding help with legal services and understanding legal terms
  • Statewide county contacts for kinship care assistance

Additionally, the guide’s appendix includes blank copies of important documents including Power of Attorney and the Caretaker Authorization Affidavit.

Many Ohio counties offer Kinship Care or Kinship Navigator services. Programs vary by county but may include formal support groups and counseling, training for kinship caregivers, help with adoption or other legal services, connection to public assistance programs, and more.

For example, Butler County’s Kinship Navigator Program helps kinship caregivers determine their eligibility for financial assistance and healthcare coverage for the children in their care, as well as other assistance programs, including help with clothing, connections to social services, newsletters, support groups, infant massage classes, and advocacy at Pre-trial for custody.

If you or someone you know is a grandparent raising a grandchild(ren) or other kinship caregiver, try the following resources.

Council on Aging Resource Directory: Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
Ohio Department of Job and Family Services
Ohio Resource Guide for Relatives Caring for Children
Ohio Grandparent/Kinship Coalition
Kinship Care Ohio
Ohio Benefit Bank

County Resources:

Butler County
Butler County Kinship Navigator Program
Melissa Ruffner, IAIM, Kinship Navigator

Clinton County
Clinton County Department of Job and Family Services
If you or someone you know is taking care of a grandchild or the child of a relative or friend full-time, call 937-382-5935 and contact Dawn Yeakley at extension 1236 or Lisa Sweetman at extension 1345.

Clermont County
Clermont County Department of Job and Family Services

Hamilton County
Hamilton County Department of Job and Family Services Kinship Care Program