Category: ‘Kinship Empowerment’

Foster Kinship’s Easter Picnic a Success!

April 1, 2013 Posted by Ali

April 1, 2013 – LAS VEGAS, NV: Local 501c3 nonprofit Foster Kinship held an Easter egg hunt and picnic for kinship families Saturday March 30th at Children’s Memorial Park. Over 260 individual who are raising their relative’s children were signed up to attend, and over 40 people volunteered to assist.

Kinship caregivers and their entire families enjoyed free BBQ, Shave Ice from Real Kine Shave Ice, an Easter egg hunt with over 900 eggs, egg decorating, pictures with the Easter bunny, face painting, games and prizes. 150 children received Easter Baskets at the conclusion of the event. Foster Kinship also announced the expansion of services to caregivers at the event.

The event was made possible by the community outreach volunteers from the Las Vegas Center for Spiritual Living and generous donations from CareMore, American West Development, Ebunny, and Real Kine Shave Ice.

Foster Kinship was founded in December 2011 to help relatives who have taken on the difficult job of creating safe, loving homes for vulnerable children when the parents are no longer able or willing to do so. It is the only organization in NV dedicated to providing support and resources to the over 19,000 kinship caregivers raising 35,000 children in Clark County.

Event Photos:

Reg_Julie VolunteerRally EasterBaskets BBQ EggHunt Eggs EasterBunny EasterBasketsGiving RealKine_2 EggDecorating

 

Activities and Stress Relievers for Caregivers and Children

November 6, 2012 Posted by Ali

Research shows that relatives such as grandparents are very willing to step in and raise the children in their family when parents are unable to parent. Grandparents have deep love for the children and would prefer to have the children remain in the family and not go to an unfamiliar foster home. However, raising your relative can be incredibly difficult. You may feel exhausted, impatient and alone. Taking care of yourself is critical- so you can be the best caregiver you can be.

The following excellent suggestions are adapted from a brochure published by Michigan State University School of Social Work Kinship Care Resource Center.

Drawing: Art is a great way for not only children, but also adults to express themselves. The next time your children are coloring, sit down with them and create a picture.

Social support: Do fun things with your friends and their children. Play dates like this will help your children create new friendships, and they will help you maintain your own friendships. This will give you time to talk with other caregivers, receive advice, or just catch up.

Writing: This is a great activity that will help a stressed caregiver express feelings and frustrations. Older children can write in a journal while you write in yours. Younger children can have their own journal to draw pictures or practice their letters. This is a wonderful activity as a routine before bedtime.

Gardening: Keep a small garden, whether it’s a flower garden outside or an indoor herb garden. It will teach the children responsibility to help you maintain it, and it will give you a sense of satisfaction when you see the fruits of your labor.

Take a power nap: A quick 10 to 30 minute nap will recharge you more than you think. If your children go down for an afternoon nap, catch one yourself also!

Breathing techniques: Slow, deep breaths will lower your heart rate and make you feel more relaxed. Breathing in a paper bag when extremely distressed or nervous will also help calm you down.

Exercise: Physical activity releases endorphins in the brain, a substance that makes you feel good, relieves tension, and acts as a painkiller. Taking a walk with your children to a park and playing an outside game with them are both great ways to get exercise and spend time with the children. If the children are young, push them in a stroller.

Fresh air: Try eating your lunch at work outside or enjoy dinner in your backyard. The outside environment will be refreshing, and good weather may put you in a better mood. A simple picnic or barbeque will be a fun change of scenery for both you and your children.

Stay organized: Keep a calendar at home to organize the family’s commitments. Keep a list of all the numbers and contacts for your children and the people and organizations you contact for thief support. A log with dates, names, phone numbers and brief descriptions of conversations will help you keep track of the sometimes complicated processes and procedures you encounter. Make copies of all important documents and store legal documents, such as birth certificates and social security cards, in a safe place.

Create a chart for the children to remember and keep track of their chores. This also helps to divide work evenly. Always put bills to be paid in the same spot and mark the envelope with their due date or put it on the calendar. Once you find a system of organization at home that works for you, you will need to keep track of fewer appointments and reminders in your head.

Meditation: Whether silently at home or in the form of prayer at your local church, meditation is a great way to clear your mind. Find a comfortable space, listen to relaxing music, and sit quietly for 15 minutes.

Massage: Rub pressure points on your neck, head, hands, and arms to relieve tension. If appropriate, involve your children to help them relieve stress too by creating a massage train. Each person massages the hand of the person next to him or her for a few minutes.

Yoga: Children may not be able to perform the same workout as you, but you will still be promoting a healthy lifestyle to them if they are around you while you are doing it. Yoga helps with flexibility, stress relief, and is a healthy form of exercise.

Adult Recreation: Research local recreation centers to find classes and activities offered for adults. Child care is often provided during adult classes. Try these local organizations:

  • Clark County Parks & Recreation
  • Las Vegas YMCA
  • Clark County Community Centers

 

Sources: Evenson RJ, Simon RW. Clarifying the Relationship Between Parenthood and Depression. Journal of Health and Social Behavior. December 2005.

 

 

We say “Thanks” with our first Family Fun Night November 9th!

September 24, 2012 Posted by Ali

Kinship caregivers and their families are invited to our first family fun night!

Are you raising your relative’s children in Clark County? Foster Kinship and The Las Vegas Center for Spiritual Living invite you to a fun free family night to give you the “thanks” you deserve for providing kinship care.

To thank kinship caregivers for all they do, each registered family will receive a box full of non-perishable food items and a grocery voucher for a turkey to prepare a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner.

Join us for free:

  • Pizza and cupcakes
  • Kids Activities
  • Family Resources
  • Kinship Information and Support
  • Box of Thanksgiving food and a grocery voucher

When: Friday, November 9, 2012

Time: 6-8 PM

Location: The Las Vegas Center for Spiritual Living- 4325 N. Rancho Drive, Suites 110-120, Las Vegas, NV 89130

Save the date and RSVP today! www.fosterkinship.org/RSVP or call (702) 546-9988

Space is limited and a confirmation number is required for entry.

This free event is sponsored by a partnership between Foster Kinship and The Las Vegas Center for Spiritual Living.

Guardianship Resources in Nevada

June 12, 2012 Posted by Ali

If you are caring for your relative and foresee it will be longer than a few weeks, you may want to establish legal standing so that you are able to protect the child, provide some stability and be able to make medical and educational decisions for the child. One way relatives can pursue legal standing is through guardianship, depending on the specific circumstances of your situation*.

In Clark County, guardianship cases are handled by Family Court- a division of the Eighth Judicial District. The laws governing guardianship are covered in Chapter 159 of the Nevada Revised Statues.

What is guardianship? A guardian is one person agreeing to be responsible for another person, another person and their estate, or another person’s estate. A guardianship of the person allows the legal guardian the ability to make legal decisions regarding schooling, medical care, religion and other aspects of day-to-day life.

Outside of adoption, guardianship is the safest, most stable arrangement for a relative raising a child. It provides legal and physical custody. It is the legal transfer of custody to someone other than a parent.

Guardianship does not terminate parental rights, but it does suspend them. The advantage to guardianship is control. It grants the guardian the legal authority to enroll the child in school, consent to medical treatment, living situations (within the state), and make many other decisions.

Guardianship has some downsides as well. The cost to petition the court for guardianship, especially if you are using a lawyer, and/or your petition is contested, can be expensive. In addition there are emotional risks. You must prove that it is in the child’s best interest to be with you, which means you are building a case against the parent.

In Nevada there are two guardianship options to consider:

  • Six Month Temporary Guardianship: NV law allows for an informal type of guardianship that does not require court approval. The parents of the minor child can fill out this form which appoints a temporary guardian. Temporary guardianships can be used for school and medical purposes. They can be renewed after the six months, and are renewal and terminable at will of the parent. Click here to download a Short-Term Guardianship form and instructions from the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada. This type of guardianship works if you have a good relationship with the child’s parents, if the child’s parents consent, and if it is a short term situation.
  • Court Ordered Guardianship: A legal guardianship requires a court order and it is a more complex legal process best done with the support of a lawyer. If you don’t follow the correct process of filing and notifying the right individuals your petition will not be granted.  However, it is possible to do it yourself, provided you have the right information. The Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada has free classes and resources.  Once appointed, a guardian must do what is necessary to provide the ward (child in care) with proper care, maintenance, education and support. This includes food, clothing, shelter, necessities, seeking child support from the parents, authorizing medical care, and ensuring proper education and training. The guardians must file an annual report with the court. Guardianship is terminated upon the death of the ward, 18th birthday or high school graduation, if the court feels the guardian is no longer necessary, if the ward moves to a different state, or if a parent petitions the court for termination of guardianship and the court decides to terminate.

GUARDIANSHIP RESOURCES

Clark County:

Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada

*Guardianship options may not apply if you are caring for the child after Child Protective Services became involved. If you are working with the Clark County Department of Family Services, you are considered a foster parent, and will not be able to pursue guardianship on your own timeline (although it may be something pursued by DFS). Please review information for relative foster parenting. For information on licensing and kinship foster parenting, you should contact the DFS social worker assigned to your case.

For guardianship questions, please contact the appropriate resources above, or email or call Foster Kinship at (702) KIN-9988 for assistance and additional resources.

Foster Kinship offers free support groups for people who are raising their relative’s children. We understand the multifaceted legal, emotional, and financial difficulties that come with the role. Please join us July 14th from 2:00-3:00 in Conference Room A at 5030 South Paradise Road, Las Vegas 89119.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF): What Nevada Kinship Caregivers Need to Know

June 5, 2012 Posted by Ali

According to recent reports[1], less than 12% of kinship families receive TANF support, even though nearly 100% of the children in these families are eligible.

Most children living apart from their parents- including those living with family members- are eligible for cash assistance through TANF, even if the family member they are living with is not eligible.

Full-time relative caregivers do not need legal custody or guardianship to apply for assistance on the child’s behalf.

If caregivers also meet certain income requirements, they may also be eligible for cash grants.

There is great confusion out there about how grandparents and other relatives apply for aid for the children in their care and how that aid is determined. If your relative is eligible for assistance, don’t let misinformation deprive him/her of it.

As a non-parent relative, you may apply for assistance for your child only OR for your child and yourself. Before beginning to apply for any of the TANF programs, it is wise to obtain a copy of the application and the requirements to qualify.

Nevada TANF Benefits are managed by the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services: Division of Welfare and Supportive Services:https://dwss.nv.gov/

PLEASE NOTE: This information is from the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services Division of Welfare and Supportive Services. Foster Kinship is not associated with the welfare department and encourages all relative caregivers to speak to a caseworker at the closest welfare office for specific answers to their particular situation.

Status you may qualify for include:

Needy Caretaker- a relative, other than a legal parent, requesting assistance for themselves and a child. A relative’s INCOME and RESOURCES are used to determine eligibility when applying as a Needy Caretaker.

Non-Needy Caretaker-  a relative, other than a legal parent, requesting assistance for the child only. INCOME is used to determine eligibility when applying as a non-needy caretaker.  However, your income should not count. You are filling out the application for your relative, not yourself. It shouldn’t matter what your income and circumstances are- if the state offers child-only grants (NV does), the relative should be eligible for assistance. This is true even if you are the legal guardian. Always double check with several sources before taking no as an answer, even eligibility experts can give you the wrong information.

Nevada Kinship Care Program- To be eligible for a Kinship Care payment, you must:

● be age 62 or older;

● be a non-parent, non-needy relative caregiver (not requesting assistance for yourself.);

● be caring for and residing with a child who is related by blood, adoption or marriage for at least six months;

● file for and obtain Nevada court approval of legal guardianship;

● comply with court imposed requirements;

● relative household members (the child you are requesting assistance for) must have combined income below 275% federal poverty level.

   AND

The child(ren) must meet the age, citizenship, and resource eligibility  requirements for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)  program.

The Division can help you qualify for Kinship Care by:

● assisting you in the application and verification process;

● referring you to legal counsel, contracted with the state of Nevada, who will assist you in pursuing guardianship at little or no cost to you; or

● reimburse the relative caregiver up to $600 for legal counsel sought independently, to obtain guardianship.

Application Process

Apply online- You can apply on line at;
ACCESS NEVADA English
ACCESS NEVADA En Español

Or apply at the office closest to you- if you do not go to the right district office staff will inform you of the correct office location- so call first to confirm. If you ask, staff will accept your application and forward it to the correct office.

Belrose District Office
700 Belrose Street
Las Vegas, NV 89107
(702) 486-1646 – (702) 486-1628 (fax)

Flamingo District Office
3330 Flamingo Road, Suite 55
Las Vegas, NV 89121
(702) 486-9400 (main) – (702) 486-9401 (fax)
(702) 486-9540 (fax)

Henderson District Office
520 Boulder Highway
Henderson, NV 89015
(702) 486-5000 – (702) 486-1270 (fax)

Nellis District Office
611 N Nellis Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 89110
(702) 486-4828 – (702) 486-4737 (fax)

Owens District Office
1040 W Owens Avenue
Las Vegas, NV 89106
(702) 486-1899 – (702) 486-1802 (fax)

Pahrump District Office
1840 Pahrump Valley Road
Pahrump, NV 89048
(775) 751-7400 – (775) 751-7404 (fax)

Documents Needed for Application: You need proof of the information provided, so it’s very helpful to bring as many of the following items as you can:

  1. Proof of residency (lease agreement, rent receipt, mortgage, utility bills).
  2. A Nevada driver’s license or other identification (ID).
  3. A social security card or proof you have applied for one.
  4. Proof of birth for all persons applying for assistance.
  5. Proof of citizenship for all household members.
  6. Marriage and/or divorce decree.
  7. Proof of school attendance for school age children.
  8. Proof of income received, such as pay stubs or a statement from your employer, Social Security Administration, child support payments, loans, etc.
  9. Latest bank statements and proof of other assets such as vehicles, property.
  10. Verification of household composition (who lives in the home and their relationship to the child(ren)).
  11. Verification of subsidized housing assistance.

Child Support Enforcement: All cases for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and medical programs where the adult and child(ren) receive Medicaid must be referred for Child Support Enforcement. : The responsible relative caregiver who is applying for or receiving TANF NEON or Child Only cash assistance must cooperate with the  Child Support Enforcement Program (CSEP) requirements by:

  1. Surrendering and endorsing all support and/or medical support payments to the state after TANF NEON or Child Only cash benefits are approved.
  2. Providing information on the non-custodial parent (NCP);
  3. Participating in efforts to locate the NCP (absent parent);
  4. Establishing paternity when necessary;
  5. Establishing a child support order;

Failure to cooperate without good cause, will result in the denial or termination of TANF NEON, Child ONLY and/or TANF-Related Medicaid (TRM) for all household members. Medicaid from another program will be considered for the child(ren). If the responsible adult is a pregnant woman, she will continue to receive pregnancy related Medicaid coverage during her pregnancy.

The relative caregiver has the right to claim “good cause”, and request a determination of its validity, for not cooperating with CSEP.

PLEASE NOTE: This information is from the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services Division of Welfare and Supportive Services. Foster Kinship does not claim to be a welfare representative or expert encourages all relative caregivers to speak to a caseworker at the closest welfare office for specific answers to their particular situation.


[1] Annie E. Casey Foundation, Kids Count Policy Report: Stepping Up For Kids, 2012.

New Report Highlights Strengths, Needs of Kinship Caregivers

May 29, 2012 Posted by Ali

The Annie E. Casey Foundation KIDS COUNT policy report “Stepping Up for Kids: What Government and Communities Should Do to Support Kinship Families” was released last week, and shines a bright light on the strengths of kinship caregivers as well as the needs of kinship families.

Kinship care refers to private care without child protective services involvement as well as public kinship care in which families care for children who are involved with the child welfare system. There also is kinship foster care, which describes the subset of children who are placed with relatives but remain in the legal custody of the state.

According to the report, 1 in 11 US children lives in kinship care at some point before the age of 18. Nationally, these 2.7 million children are being raised by grandparents, aunts, and other relatives who step in when parents are unable to raise their children.

The report estimates that in Nevada, 19,000 children are in kinship care with no parents present. Foster Kinship, a Clark County nonprofit supporting individuals caring for their relative’s children, estimates the number of relatives supporting children as much higher when you add in the individuals who are heads of the household and responsible for children other than their own. The 2010 US Census for Clark County, NV shows 19,000 grandparents who are in some way caring for their grandchildren, and the number of children in Clark County, NV living in grandparent-headed homes today (35,451) is up by 5,000 from 2008 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010; Las Vegas Junior League, 2008).

“A growing body of research confirms that, in most circumstances, kinship care is the best option when children cannot live with their own parents,” the report states.  Placement frequency, attachment disorders, caregiver perception of the child and community connection are all more favorable in kinship care than unfamiliar foster care.

However, kinship caregivers are often unprepared for the challenges of “second time parenting” and the multiple systems they will encounter as they raise the child. The caregiver often lacks the necessary legal authority to enroll a child for school or give medical consent.

Caregivers may also be unfamiliar with available government support programs or struggle to access them, including the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the federal financial aid program for low-income families. Less than 12% of kinship families receive TANF payments, although nearly 100% of the children in these families are eligible.

“Kinship caregivers, whether they obtain assistance from foster care or TANF, receive much less financial support that what the USDA estimates it costs to raise a child,” the report explains.  As an example, a kinship caregiver raising two children outside of the foster care system, TANF benefits would only provide $344 per month, just 17% of the estimated $1,980 needed monthly.

Most families who receive TANF payments still need support, as the caregivers are likely to be poor, single, older, less-educated and unemployed, which makes taking on child care and health insurance costs an extra burden.

The report states private health insurance usually covers only biological and adoptive children, not children in kinship care, and caregivers are often unaware of children’s eligibility for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

“An advocate for the kinship caregiver is extremely important,” says Ali O’Donnell, founder and executive director of Foster Kinship, “that is why we focus our resources and support exclusively on kinship caregivers. Informing and supporting kinship caregivers strengthens the families and increases the children’s chances for long-term success.”

“Kinship care helps protect children and maintains strong family, community and cultural connections. When children cannot remain safely with their parents, other family and friends can provide a sense of security, positive identity and belonging,” the report summarizes. Foster Kinship’s services aim to “stand in the gap” for caregivers and provide the support and resources to care for their relatives, and help keep home in the family for vulnerable children. Where services are not already available in the community or fall short of the needs of the family, Foster Kinship will work to provide assistance to this population through kinship caregiver support groups, resource direction, family days and financial support.

For more information on kinship caregiver assistance in Clark County, NV, or to find out how you can help, please visit www.fosterkinship.org or call (702) KIN-9988.

Helping Children Build Positive Self Esteem

April 9, 2012 Posted by Ali

If you are a grandparent or other individual raising your relative’s child, you are playing an important role in that child’s life. Children come to be cared for by relatives for situations we may wish the child had never been exposed to, and by the time they come to their grandparents or other relatives, they may feel they have little value or importance. Often, children who have been neglected, abused treated poorly, ignored or exposed to traumatic situations form the self-belief early on that they do not matter or their needs are not important. This creates a foundation of poor self-esteem that will affect them in many areas of their life. As the stable adult and their caretaker, there are ways to understand the child’s need for self-esteem and work to help them build it up.

The first thing to know is that children who suffer from low self-esteem do not trust the adults in their life. Based on their own experience, they have learned that those who should of protected them instead made their worlds very unstable or even dangerous. Often, these children are unable to relax and trust their relative or grandparent. Building trust requires time and patience. As the caregiver, know that it is your behavior that will build trust, not just your words. Trust is basic to feeling secure and valuable and is fundamental to building positive self-esteem.

Here are some ways to build trust and promote positive self-esteem:

  • Be predictable and consistent. Children may feel they have to test you  time after time before they believe you.
  • Create boundaries and rules and follow through when rules are broken. When a child breaks a rule, it will be easy to say, “You shoved your brother. I understand you are frustrated, but shoving is not allowed because I am concerned you might hurt your brother. You know that when you break the rules you get a 5-minute time out. When you are done we can talk about other ways to deal with your anger when you feel frustrated.” When the child is done with the consequence, talk to them about their feelings. Make it safe to have feelings, but to show them other ways to regulate.  The child may not like the rules, but it will provide security knowing they are there and the consequences.
  • Give specific compliments tied to the child’s behavior. Find something daily to praise them on. For example, if they hung up their towel after their shower, say, “I really appreciate how you cleaned up your bathroom after using it. It shows you are a responsible person. Thank you.”
  • Show you are proud of the child. Hang pictures, school work, drawings up publicly.
  • Show your love. Hug, read, play and tell the child how much you love them and how important they are.  Make art with the child, play games, listen to music, play at the park. Have a regular reading time, hug the child frequently. Give affection often and without warning.  Praise the child regularly in response to their positive behavior.
  • Watch your words and use mistakes as learning opportunities. Instead of criticizing or ridiculing to teach a lesson, stick with the facts to point out a problem and offer solutions. If the child spills something, don’t yell out of your own frustration. Instead, offer, “I think you hit the glass when you reached across the table, please get a damp cloth and lets clean this up.”
  • Listen to the child. Ask them questions, even if you don’t understand entirely what they are trying to express. Talk to them about their interests.
  • Model the behavior you want to see. If you have rules against hitting  and screaming, do not use spanking as a punishment. Do not yell at the child, at your spouse. Children will pick up on your behavior and learn from it. This goes back to consistency.

It is important to focus on the child’s strengths rather than their faults. When you get frustrated, tired, and overwhelmed, seek support for yourself. Find a support group, talk to a therapist, and take a break with some friends. Remember the very important work you are doing: creating a safe, predictable, and loving place for the child. It is on that foundation that you are helping to build positive self-esteem and restore what may have been taken from the child.

What other tips do you have for building self-esteem in children? Let us know in the comments.

Increasing Empowerment for Kinship Caregivers

April 2, 2012 Posted by Ali

For many individuals raising their relative’s children, a loss of control and lack of empowerment are fundamental issues. While the situations surrounding the need for the kinship care relationship may be overwhelming and traumatic, it is important for caregivers to re-establish or maintain some level of empowerment in order to best take care of themselves and the children in their homes.

Imagine for a moment you receive a call early in the morning. It is the Department of Family Services, and they are asking if you can care for your two grandchildren who have been removed from their parents care the previous night due to allegations of neglect.. How will you raise two children in your small one bedroom apartment? You have retired, so where will the additional funds come from? How will you enroll them in school, and what if they need medical care? Will you be eligible for foster payments? Your relationship with your grandchildren’s parents has been rocky for years due to their erratic lifestyle- how will you cope with the additional stress of raising their children? What will your friends think as your lifestyle dramatically changes in order to parent a second time at an older age? Eventually, you may be faced with the decision to adopt your grandchildren.

A sense of power can diminish when circumstances get out of control. Parenting your relative’s children is no doubt one of those times when power can easily be stripped from the caregiver, as even the most “powerful” individual can begin to doubt their own skills and abilities.  A major factor affecting powerlessness is not having the resources necessary for solving problems. In the common example above, the caregiver can improve their sense of power and control if they understand the resources available to them and the options they have in each system they will encounter. Knowing what those systems are and who to speak to in order to feel heard will increase empowerment. In addition, increasing communication and listening skills in order to advocate for their needs and the needs of their grandchildren will improve their ability to care for their family.

Foster Kinship can assist new relative caregivers with resources and contacts in each system, and is here to listen to their needs and work together to improve the outcomes for their families. Each situation is different, and that is why Foster Kinship will take the time to really understand each family and work to direct them to the right kinship resources- both in Clark County and nationally. In addition, our support groups can connect caregivers with others in similar situations. By increasing the access to resources necessary to solve problems, individuals will be enabled to work more effectively to influence or change the things which are bothering or blocking them.

Call us today and be heard: (702) KIN-9988.

 
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