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330,000+ CA Kids Raised by Grandparents, Other Relatives and Friends

May 23, 2012

More than 330,000 California children are being raised by someone other than their parents, according to a report released today.

Children in these so-called "kinship families" are more likely to have higher poverty rates and less likely to have health insurance, according to the study from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Many kinship caregivers lack financial and community support, says Jessica Mindnich, associate director of research for Children Now, so they struggle to provide basic needs.

"We want to just make sure that these families are privy to the various services that children might be eligible for, whether it's free or reduced lunch at school, Healthy Families or Medi-Cal."

Mindnich says the state's Kinship Support Services Program has been instrumental, both for caregivers and the children living in their homes. However, the state's new plan to realign public-safety services no longer guarantees the money will go directly to KSSP. That concerns Mindnich, who says California counties already face a lot of challenges.

"There's great need out there right now, and if it's not specifically tied to one service, counties just might not be able to prioritize the delivery of these services, which we think are critical to these 330,000 children."

The report says more states need to adopt policies which are helpful to kinship caregivers, and that caregivers need to be made aware of federal, state and private programs available to help them raise the children in their care.

The report, "Stepping Up for Kids: What Government and Communities Should Do to Support Kinship Families," is online at AECF.org.

Lori Abbott, Public News Service - CA