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Report: More Help Available for IN's Kinship Caregivers

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 By Leigh DeNoonContact
May 23, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS - There's been a surge in the use of kinship care in Indiana; that's the term when relatives or family friends are raising a child, rather than the child's parents.

59,000 children in Indiana are such care, according to the new Annie E. Casey Foundation report called "Stepping Up For Kids." That's 4 percent of all the children in the state.

Bill Stanczykiewicz, president of the Indiana Youth Institute, says many kids end up in kinship-care arrangements after intervention by Child Protective Services.

"In the State of Indiana, a county judge makes the determination on where to place the child, with advice from the state. And the state has guided the county judges to look at kinship care as the first option."

Stanczykiewicz says placing kids with extended family members or family friends is in the child's best interest.

"Through this difficult situation of abuse or neglect, the child will have the most stability possible being placed with an extended family member who they know,as opposed to a loving, wonderful foster care family who the child does not know."

Stanczykiewicz says the 'Stepping Up For Kids' report indicates more help is available for kinship care families, although there is a challenge.

"Making sure kinship families understand that they are eligible for services from the state, and perhaps even from private or charitable sources, to get the additional help that they need to raise these children."

The Casey report says all kinship kids can receive TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) support. Many families are eligible for SNAP benefits, formerly known as food stamps, as well as help with child care, housing and medical care.

Stanczykiewicz says there's been a surge in the use of kinship care in Indiana.

"The Department of Child Services has increased the use of kinship care by 91 percent in the last few years, and about one-third of the children that they place outside of the child's biological family are now in kinship care."

U.S. Census Bureau data indicates kinship caregivers tend to be poor, single, and older than families with at least one parent.

The report is online at www.aecf.org.

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