Author: Annmarie Pryor, Pima Community College
Everyday when children are taken from their homes there are extended family members or even friends who step up to care for them when their own parents are deemed unfit. It is an amazing and selfless act that can positively impact a child’s life. Many believe that kinship care is in the best interest of the child because it allows them to stay around familiar people in a time of uncertainty. It gives children a sense of permanency and protects them culturally (“Kinship”). As any parent can tell you, raising a child is rewarding, challenging, and very expensive. At every age children have needs. Babies need diapers, medicine, and clothes as they grow. School aged children need supplies for school, clothes, and food. Teenagers need to learn to drive, apply for college or trade school, and often expensive school supplies. When a child is removed from a home there is a short time before they get placed with a friend or family member, if that is available for them, and there is no time for those people to prepare to raise a child (“Kinship”). The guideline to become a kinship caregiver is minimal: must be at least 18, able to pass a criminal history check, and able to meet child’s health and safety needs (“Kinship”). It is amazing that mostly any safe person in a child’s life can be a kinship caregiver, but it does mean that potentially adults who are very young or very elderly are now in a position to parent a child of any age and likely don’t have immediate knowledge of what that entails or what resources are needed.
There are some funding options available. As I mentioned before, children are expensive. Arizona has a Kinship Stipend, which is a monthly allowance for caregivers that meet certain income requirements. This is only a $75 a month allowance per child. I know personally that I spend more than that on groceries alone for myself (“Kinship”). There is also funding from the Department of Economic Security, called TANF (temporary assistance for needy families). This funding amount is a maximum of $110 a month per child(“Apply”). Both of these assistance programs require a lengthy application process with sensitive and potentially invasive information that must be provided including, proof of income, providing copies of bills, and bank statements(“Apply”). Even with this funding at best it will cover the child’s basic needs: food, clothing, increased household utilities. There is still so much to fund in a child’s life.
Children in foster care often are recommended to receive therapy services, but how does a placement know where to go and what is covered by insurance. Many children want to continue with their normal activities that might be expensive like karate class or school sports. There is a lot to consider when giving a child a good life. I have provided information below to hopefully help those kinship caregivers get the children they are caring for everything that they need and desire. I’m hopeful that over time there will be more resources available. In the meantime, many Department of Child Safety workers are overloaded with cases and may not think to offer certain services. I urge those kinship caregivers to ask for absolutely everything. No request is too much if it will positively impact a child’s life.
“Apply for Cash Assistance. ” Apply for Cash Assistance | Arizona Department of Economic Security, https://des.az.gov/services/child-and-family/cash-assistance.
“APPLYING FOR ‘Child-Only’ CASH ASSISTANCE (TANF). ” Extranet.azdcs.gov Courses, https://freecoursesweb.com/extranet.azdcs.gov/.
Child Welfare: A Detailed Overview of Program Eligibility … https://greenbook-waysandmeans.house.gov/sites/greenbook.waysandmeans.house.gov/files/2012/documents/R42792_gb_2.pdf.
“General Award Guidelines: Foster Care Adoption – AFFCF. ” Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation |, 23 Sept. 2021, https://www.affcf.org/guidelines/.
“Home. ” Arizona Judicial Branch > Home, https://www.azcourts.gov/casaofpimacounty/Home.aspx.