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Georgia lawmakers consider bills to improve kinship care

When a parent can no longer raise a child, that child will need to be raised by someone else. In some cases, the child becomes a ward of the state; in other cases, they are taken in by family members. According to one Georgia lawmaker, there are more than 100,000 kids in this state who are being raised by a family member. This includes grandparents, aunts, uncles and other relatives.

However, these same people are finding it difficult to secure these types of arrangements and protect themselves and the children. Citing the need and obstacles of what is being referred to as kinship care, lawmakers in this state are introducing several initiatives to make it easier for relatives to care for children.

Already in place are initiatives to improve access to resources for kinship care providers. Lawmakers have stressed their findings that many problems arise because grandparents and other relatives don't know about or can't access the tools available to families in these situations. To resolve this, the state has increased the number of people available to help families work through the system.

Additionally, there are conversations being had to address the financial discrepancy between being a foster parent and being a kinship caregiver. Currently, foster parents are given much more financial support than family members caring for a child. Foster parents also receive benefits of a respite care program not currently available to kinship caregivers.

It will be interesting to see how legislation addresses the economic, logistical and psychological complications facing kinship care giving, and we will certainly keep our eye on any additional developments as there are many benefits when it comes to family members taking on the role of caregiver. Protecting this option and making it easier for Georgia relatives to preserve these familial relationships can be of great comfort to everyone involved.

However, there are and will continue to be legal steps that will need to be taken to make sure a child's well-being is prioritized and the rights of parents and caregivers are protected. Discussing your situation with an attorney will therefore be crucial.

Source: Ledger-Enquirer, "Proposed Georgia laws could help grandparents raise grandchildren," Alva James-Johnson, Feb. 6, 2016

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