Kinship care families are everywhere. Millions of grandparents and other caregivers throughout the United States have stepped forward to raise children for family members or friends. According to the 2015 U.S. Census, over 5,200 grandparents in Fairfax County are responsible for raising their grandchildren. Grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, godparents and close friends have taken on the role of substitute parents to many children. Family members and close friends have raised the children of others for generations; however, the challenges facing families have changed significantly over time.
Kinship care is typically considered to be either informal or formal:
- Informal kinship care is when the family/kin decides that the child will live with relatives or friends. Most kinship care arrangements are informal. The caregiver may want to obtain legal custody of the child in order to have the maximum ability to make decisions about the health and welfare of the child.
- Formal kinship care involves parenting of children by family/kin or friend as a result of a determination by the court and the child welfare agency. The courts rule that the child must be separated from his or her parents because of abuse, neglect, dependency, abandonment or special medical circumstances. The child is then placed in the legal custody of the child welfare agency, and the kin provide the full time care, protection and nurturing of the child. The alternative to formal or informal kinship care is usually placement with a foster care provider.
As kinship care providers, you probably thought your days of raising children were over, or you were surprised by the need to raise a relative’s children perhaps with your own. You are changing diapers and helping children with homework. Raising children is expensive and exhausting, but by raising these children yourselves, you are you are making a meaningful difference in their lives.
This resource guide is dedicated to all the kinship care providers in our community who make tremendous sacrifices for their families and the children they are raising, and who do so in a spirit of generosity and love.
*Fairfax County is committed to nondiscrimination on the basis of disability in all county programs, services and activities. To request reasonable accommodations or to receive this information in an alternate format, call 703-246-4653 or TTY: 711.