Keeping Kids with Family: How Texas Can Support Kinship Caregivers

///Keeping Kids with Family: How Texas Can Support Kinship Caregivers

This week CPPP released Keeping Kids with Family: How Texas Can Financially Support Kinship Caregivers, a new brief that explains who kinship caregivers are and what the Texas Legislature can do to support these family members and friends who have stepped up to provide homes for children whose parents cannot care for them.

These “kinship care” arrangements include all children who receive care from grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles, cousins and close family friends for a given period of time. While court orders or the foster care system formally establish some Texas kinship care arrangements, 268,000 Texas children are living with relatives or friends through informal arrangements by families.

Informal kinship caregivers save Texas taxpayers millions of dollars every year in foster care costs as they care for children who would otherwise fall into the custody of the state. And more importantly, caregivers offer love and stability to many of the state’s most vulnerable children.

Although kinship caregivers have voluntarily stepped in to become substitute parents, many have limited resources and struggle to assume the sudden financial burden of parenting. Many are grandparents who are on a fixed income and may be forced into poverty when they take in their grandchildren.

In order to support caregivers struggling to provide for the children placed in their care, it is important to acknowledge that meaningful cash assistance is often needed but not available. We must improve our Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program to allow it to meet the needs of kinship families. The Texas Legislature has the opportunity to raise TANF benefit levels and remove program barriers such as outdated asset and vehicle limits so that we can fulfill the program’s mission of providing “assistance to needy families so that children can  be cared for in their own homes or the homes of relatives.”

Check out CPPP’s Keeping Kids with Family: How Texas Can Financially Support Kinship Caregivers to learn more about what Texas can do to support these families. For more information, contact Rachel Cooper at cooper@cppp.org or 512.320.0222 x.110.

Health and Wellness Intern Julia Von Alexander contributed to this post.

Rachel joined the center in 2012 with a focus on food and nutrition programs as well as obesity. Before joining the center, she worked for the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) where she was in charge of research and data analysis and authored reports such as the School Breakfast Scorecard, Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation, and State of the States. Cooper also worked for the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), in their New York office, where she focused on helping families gain access to programs that provide work supports, such as tax credits, Medicaid, SCHIP, and food stamps. Cooper received her Masters in Human Development and Social Policy from Northwestern University.

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