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CWLA Praises White House Move to Ensure Grandparents Raising Grandkids Receive Needed Support

Kinship Care is Helping Shrink Foster Care System

For more information, contact
Linda Spears
Phone: 703-412-3165

Arlington, VA (February 24, 2010) -- In a move praised by the Child Welfare League of America, the Obama Administration updated rules related to the landmark Fostering Connections to Success Act that strengthens kinship care, ensuring that more relative caregivers receive important resources and services that other foster parents receive. The change is especially significant since the number of foster children living with their relatives has grown exponentially in recent years.

"With more than 2.6 million grandparents raising their grandkids, this is big. The Administration's leadership and action will help potentially thousands more children and their relative caregivers," said Christine James-Brown, CEO, CWLA. "Kinship care is a wonderful alternative for many children who can't live with their own parents. This new guideline will help lessen the hardships families face as they adapt to a new family structure."

Late last week, U.S. Health and Human Services re-issued guidance on the 2008 Fostering Connections to Success Act that is designed to help kinship families--many of them grandparents raising their grandchildren. Passed by Congress in 2008, the Act is a comprehensive reform that allows states to provide greater support to relative caregivers through the foster care system. But the guidance issued on December 24, 2008 limited the new support only to families that came into kinship care after a state changed its kinship laws.

Under the new guidance dated February 18, children, grandparents and the state have to meet certain requirements to be covered by the Federal Foster Care Program's Title IV-E Funding. However, it did make it possible that some of the families already in state-funded programs will be able to come into the new and stronger federally funded kinship programs. Under the new law, kinship families are able to access better services such as information and referral, support groups and caseworker support. With the revised guidance, more families will also now be able to tap these resources that benefit both the relative and the child.

Kinship care, full time care of children by relatives, has become the solution for many children who are not able to live with their parents. Of the approximate 490,000 children in foster care, today over 25 percent are living with relatives at least temporarily. In addition, millions more live with their grandparents, aunts and uncles who are not part of the system. By supporting and encouraging kinship care, the Fostering Connections Act is already credited with helping keep children out of the foster care system, which peaked at 550,000 less than 10 years ago. With this revision, the number could shrink even more.

About CWLA
CWLA is a powerful coalition of hundreds of private and public agencies serving vulnerable children and families since 1920. Through its programs, publications, research, conferences, professional development, and consultation, CWLA speaks with authority and candor about the status and the needs of American children, young people, and families. As the nationally recognized standard-setter for child welfare services, CWLA provides direct support to agencies that serve children and families, improving the quality of the services they provide to more than nine million children every year.

Since 1920, CWLA has been the nation's preeminent membership-based organization dedicated to ensuring that disadvantaged and vulnerable children are protected from harm and have the tools and resources they need to grow into healthy and happy adults. CWLA is the trusted authority for professionals who work with children and the only national organization with public and private member agencies working across all sectors of the children's services field.

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