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What do you need to know about kinship care?

Are you a grandparent in Ohio concerned about your grandchildren because their parents are unavailable or otherwise unable to care for them? Are you thinking about taking the necessary steps to become a kinship caregiver? 

If so, you are not alone. At this moment, according to the Public Children's Services Association of Ohio, the number of grandparents taking primary care of grandchildren in Ohio is approximately 100,000. In some cases, this may be a permanent arrangement, but in others, it may be only temporary while the child's parents work out whatever difficulties are preventing them from fulfilling their responsibilities.

You may not have much in the way of prior knowledge about kinship care before it becomes necessary for you to provide it, so this article attempts to inform you of the basics that you need to know.

Other than grandparents, who can become a kinship caregiver to a child?

Potentially, anyone with an existing relationship with the child and family could become a kinship caregiver. In addition to grandparents, relatives such as cousins, aunts and uncles can and do provide kinship care to children. In certain instances, older siblings can also fill this role.

However, you need not necessarily be related to a child or children to provide kinship care. Teachers and coaches, neighbors, family friends, Sunday school teachers, etc. also have the potential to become a kinship caregiver provided that they are well known to the children and family. 

What are the potential benefits of kinship care to the child?

Agencies seeking to place children after the courts remove them from the home first seek out their kin, and with good reason. Research indicates that children placed with a kinship caregiver and raised in a familiar environment are less likely to move around from home to home than children in unrelated foster care. Children receiving kinship care also tend to have fewer community problems and do better in school. 

How do you become a kinship caregiver? 

In 2012, the Ohio General Assembly approved two forms that grandparents may use to become a kinship caregiver. They are the caretaker authorization affidavit and the caregiver power of attorney. 

The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.

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