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All in the Family – Kinship Care Soars in Idaho

PHOTO: Grandfather reading to child
PHOTO: Grandfather reading to child
May 23, 2012

BOISE, Idaho - For more than 7,000 children in Idaho, a grandma, grandpa or aunt is playing the role of "parent." A report released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows it's a growing trend in the Gem State.

The number of children being cared for by family members is up by 100 percent in the past 10 years, says Idaho Kids Count Director Lauren Necochea, adding that there are upsides and downsides to these arrangements.

"Kinship caregivers provide much better outcomes for children than state custody, and they save public dollars - but these caregivers also face many challenges, and community supports could help them be more successful."

Most caregivers are grandparents, Necochea says, and most are not in a financial position to raise a family again.

"For these caregivers, the financial burdens of raising a child are severe. There are actually resources available to kinship families, but a lot of them don't know about them."

Children end up being cared for by relatives or close family friends because of military deployments, the death of a parent, substance-abuse issues, mental illness or child abuse and neglect.

Necochea says anyone can call 211 for details in Idaho about whether a child is eligible for Medicaid, SNAP or cash assistance.

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

Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - ID