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Report: More Iowa Kids Being Raised By Relatives

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

DES MOINES, Iowa - Grandma and grandpa playing the roles of mom and dad . . . again. It's becoming more common, with a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation showing some 2.7 million American children being raised by grandparents, or some other family members, at some point during their lives up to age 18. In Iowa, the number has increased considerably in recent years.

Iowa Kids Count coordinator Michael Crawford says it's called "kinship care," and it's becoming more common here.

"Kinship care is where kids are cared for by a blood relative, or another adult, with a family-like relationship, and in Iowa that really is about 3 percent of all kids in the state. However, we have had about a 50 percent increase in the last decade of kids provided for by kinship care."

He says there are challenges for those who take on the responsibility of raising a relative's child, although that relative-caregiver is usually considered best for a child's well-being.

"Sometimes it's really a financial burden for the families to have to take on: they may have children of their own and to take on a relative's children, it could be a financial burden, and maybe just kind of a stress to the family having more children involved."

Crawford says the report also found there can be legal issues surrounding medical care, or enrolling a child in school. The report recommends helping caregivers tap into existing federal funding, and establishing laws and resources to promote more kinship families.

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

Dick Layman, Public News Service - IA