Several of the states have special initiatives under way to address the needs of relative caregivers. In many instances, these efforts were undertaken by the state human service agency that deals with aging. Two states Louisiana and Washington also are pursuing a "no wrong door" approach to meeting client needs.
Wisconsin used a $3,000 grant from the Brookdale Foundation to develop its Grandparents Raising Grandchildren program. While several efforts were launched across the state, one of the strongest is located at the Oshkosh Senior Center. As part of that effort, monthly programs are offered for grandparents and the children they are raising. A meal is provided at the meetings, then the children go to a play room while an information session is provided for the grandparents. As part of a related effort, the state Bureau of Aging and Long Term Care developed a resource directory called GRAND. It was designed to be replicated easily in each county across the state. GRAND provides information on housing, legal services, mental health, and financial assistance. The state's cooperative extension service collaborates in these efforts.
The DSHS unit on aging in Washington is involved with 42 support groups across the state. These support groups provide a number of referral services. Tribal organizations across the state also provide support services for members. The unit also has produced three information guides: Relatives as Parent; Legal Guide (3rd Edition); and Relative's Guide to Child Services. The unit has coordinated some activities with the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), which provides a handout on relative caregivers to schools. The unit also has worked with pharmacies to print information for aging relative caregivers on pharmacy bags. In addition, the unit also developed a handout entitled "Sticking Together: Kinship Care and Financial Care," which describes available services.
Maryland's aging service office funds a kinship care resource center. As part of that effort, the office has developed a resource guide for the entire state that provides linkages to county level services. The office funded five support groups for relatives providing kinship care to help them navigate the system. All groups met at least monthly, with some groups meeting on a weekly basis. The meetings dealt with such topics as financial issues for children, mental health issues, behavior and school problems, medical issues, and special needs. The support groups are now funded through a different agency.
Organizations for grandparents are also active in two other states involved in this study. The Aging Service Division in Oklahoma has sponsored a grandparents' conference for the last 7 years. The state is currently conducting a survey of 500 grandparents to assess their needs. The grandparents' association in Louisiana successfully lobbied a state representative several years ago to introduce legislation to create KCSP.