More and more children are being raised by a grandparent or other relative. Many are suddenly thrust into this role and have no idea where to go for help or even what type of services and financial help they may qualify to receive. Our Kin Support Project assists families who are raising a loved one’s children who have lost a parent due to death, incarceration or an inability to parent. More and more grandparents and other relatives are affected by this sudden and unexpected change in their families. The impact is far-reaching, especially for elderly relatives who were expecting retirement and instead are raising children. It affects their finances, which may already be limited, their health, both physical and emotional, and it affects the children who face loss of a parent and new homes and ways of life.
These newly formed families feel isolated and alone. Many, especially caregivers who are nearing retirement age face financial crises, emotions ranging from fear and distress to anger and resentment and are also mourning the loss of the children’s parent, whether it be due to addiction, incarceration or death. The children face emotional issues surrounding the loss of the parent and their new lifestyle. Families not involved with the foster care system have little access to information about services available to them.
Until the Kin Support Project was developed in 2002, there was no comprehensive program to help these “newly formed” families get to legal, educational, healthcare, financial, therapeutic and other services they needed. The main goal is to keep these families together and the children out of the foster care system.
The Kin Support Project has demonstrated success in keeping children out of the foster care system and with family members, but the program is relatively unknown, leaving hundreds who could use its help without those services.
Denise Chin, Kin Support Project Director, finds the project professionally rewarding and inspiring. “It is an honor to work with kinship families, unsung heroes of our community! These kinship caregivers have stepped in to provide the daily care for their relative’s children. Kin Support services are incredibly valuable as these families are provided with much-needed support, counseling, education, as well as connection to resources and other services.” she said.
In collaboration with the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, Inc., Families First’s Kin Support Project helps such families that often have a wide variety of issues and concerns, which include obtaining economic benefits and health insurance.