Brevard, N.C. – Approximately 238,000 children in North Carolina are being raised by their grandparents or other relatives. Social service agencies increasingly turn first to kinship families when seeking placements for children, and many grandparents or kin step in informally before social services become involved.
Our challenges and circumstances are different from the younger generation having children. We are trying to figure out how to navigate through this new chapter in our lives that we didn’t plan on. ~Grandmother raising her granddaughter
In 2021, the nonprofit Creating a Family held six listening sessions with kinship caregivers to identify needs and service gaps. Kinship families identified a critical need to understand their legal permanency options. Should they seek custody, guardianship, adoption, or continue in an informal arrangement? Should they become licensed foster parents to their grandchild? How do they protect the child from being removed from their care by an unstable parent? How do they enroll the child in school or make medical decisions?
In response to this need, Creating a Family, with the financial support of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina’s Healthy Blue Medicaid plan, developed the Legal Options for Kinship Caregivers in North Carolina website (www.nckinshipfamilies.org) to provide this information. The website helps kinship caregivers explore their legal options, whether working with child welfare or caring for children outside the child welfare system.
The mobile-friendly multimedia website includes videos with experts explaining the various options, lived-experience videos of North Carolina kinship caregivers, animated tips videos, audio conversations, and downloadable tip sheets and templates. Guided by a kinship advisory committee, the website explores legal options for informal agreements, power of attorney, becoming a licensed kinship foster parent, custody, guardianship, and adoption. The website also offers links and information if the caregiver needs to find an attorney and additional resources.
_No other resource is available that is this comprehensive and easy to use to help grandparents and other kin wade through their legal options. We can't wait to start using this with our kinship families. ~Gaile Osborne, Foster Family Alliance_
Creating a Family is working with various private and state agencies across North Carolina to ensure this free resource is available to kinship caregivers throughout the state.
“At Blue Cross NC’s Healthy Blue Medicaid plan, we know that strong families and communities are fundamental pieces of health,” said Angela Boykin, vice president of government operations at Blue Cross NC. “We are proud to be part of this important service to help kinship families navigate their options and find resources.”
Learn more: creatingafamily.org