On Their Own Terms: Supporting Kinship Care Outside of TANF and Foster Care. Respite Care, Transportation, Child Care


Three important supports which kinship care programs can offer are respite care, transportation assistance and child care assistance. Child care is often provided as a way to enable caregivers to engage in activities which provide respite or attend support groups. In addition, access to child care subsidies can enable caregivers to combine caregiving responsibilities with employment.

Respite care may be provided through a variety of arrangements. Denver's program organizes some group activities which provide needed respite for caregivers. The Kinship Support Network in San Francisco provides organized activities for children, fulfilling the dual objective of providing developmentally appropriate activities for children and affording caregivers a respite period while children engage in these activities. For example, adult caregiver group activities, such as an outing to the mall, are often scheduled to coincide with children's activities. In Pittsburgh, A Second Chance provides both emergency respite (a range of one hour to ten days is offered) as well as a grandparent respite cooperative. Older kinship caregivers in Oklahoma can receive vouchers to purchase respite care services through the Oklahoma Respite Resource Network. This network represents a collaborative state agency, including the Division of Aging Services, to provide funding for respite services. Caregivers may select the respite provider of their choosing so long as the provider is 18 years or older and does not live in the same household.

Some programs attempt to alleviate transportation problems for caregivers. Pittsburgh's A Second Chance program provides extensive transportation to caregivers and children. The program provides transportation for children's visitation with birth parents, medical and other appointments, and for recreation activities. In Denver, the alternative kinship program provides transportation assistance in the form of city bus tokens.

Relative caregivers often have little information on the availability of child care in their community. Several of the alternative programs attempt to provide or coordinate with other programs for child care. In Florida, one of the major benefits of the relative caregiver program is that caregivers can obtain subsidized child care (on a sliding scale) until the child turns 12 years of age. In comparison, state policy requires Florida's TANF program to limit child care assistance to a six-month period for relatives in child-only assistance units. The Kinship Support Network includes after school tutoring three days each week and provides child care during support group meetings. Kinship Support Network families involved with the public child welfare system are also eligible for child care through that agency for one year if the caregiver is working or in school or the child has special needs.