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A message from Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2007 7:55 pm    Post subject: A message from Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton
From Mon Mar 12, 2007 2:00 am to Thu Mar 15, 2007 1:59 am (included)
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Dear Dennis:

In a visit today to the GrandParent Family Apartments, the first apartments in the nation built from the ground up for grandparents raising grandchildren, I joined with families and advocates to underscore the urgent need to support the growing numbers of grandparents and other relative caregivers raising children. Emphasizing the need to remove barriers that too often confront kinship caregivers, I am re-introducing legislation in the Senate to provide needed assistance to kinship caregivers and enable kinship care for more children who otherwise would be in foster care.

More than six million children - 1 in 12 - are living in households headed by grandparents or other relatives. In New York City alone, there are over 245,000 adolescents living in grandparent-headed households. Across New York , more than 400,000 children - more than nine percent of the children in the state - live in households headed by a grandparent or other relative according to the most rec ent data available from the United States Census Bureau. An estimated 20,000 children living in foster care across the country could leave the system if Congress made subsidized guardianship available to their families.

The Kinship Caregiver Support Act will establish a Kinship Navigator Program in states, large metropolitan areas and Indian tribal organizations to assist kinship caregivers in navigating needed programs and services. The program will provide families with the guidance they need to obtain health care coverage for the children in their care, apply for housing assistance, locate childcare, enroll children in school, and gain access to other services.

The bill also will establish a Kinship Guardianship Assistance Program to provide federal assistance to states for subsidized guardianship programs to better serve the needs of kinship care families and make it possible for grandparents and other relatives who become kinship caregivers to receive the same subsidy a foster family would receive. Currently, kinship caregivers are not eligible to receive such a subsidy to help provide for a child who would otherwise be in foster care.

In addition, the legislation will ensure notice is given to relatives when children enter foster care. Unfortunately, grandparents and other relatives often do not know when their grandchildren or nieces and nephews come under the care of the State. Notifying grandparents and other relatives when children enter the foster care system will make it easier for families to stay together.

I introduced the bipartisan Kinship Caregiver Support Act along with Senator Olympia Snowe in the 108 th and 109 th Congresses and will continue to press for passage of the legislation. Supporters of the legislation include: Generations United, the Children's Defense Fund, the Child Welfare League of America, the AARP, the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), Grandparents for Children's Rights, the Kids are Waiting Campaign and the Evan P. Donaldson Adoption Institute.

So many grandparents and other relatives are making great personal sacrifices to provide safe and loving homes for the children in their care. These guardians often take on this responsibility unexpectedly, facing physical, emotional, and financial challenges . Too often, the deck is stacked against these caring relatives. They have difficulty gaining formal custody of the children in their care, enrolling children in school, authorizing medical treatment, retaining public housing, getting affordable l egal services, and accessing benefits that could help them provide care. By taking common sense steps, we can remove these unnecessary barriers and address the unique challenges facing kinship caregivers struggling to do the right thing for our children .


Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton
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