Support Bill HB004 Tennessee Relative Caregiver Funding. Making Kinship Care A Priority

Support Bill HB004 Tennessee Relative Caregiver Funding. Making Kinship Care A Priority

0 have signed. Let’s get to 500!
At 500 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!
Ty Brown started this petition to Governor Bill Lee

In Tennessee the Opioid Epidemic and Parent Incarceration numbers are increasing at a rapid pace. The incarceration of a parent can have as much impact on a child’s well-being as abuse or domestic violence. But while states spend heavily on corrections, few resources exist to support those left behind. Our state continues to reel from a decades-long opioid epidemic that has devastated families and communities, the public health response has focused on reducing fatal overdoses and treating addiction. Those are of course necessary and noble actions, but we must also be dedicated to strengthening supports for children in these families – the bystanders to this epidemic who are just as impacted yet rarely seen.

When a child is found to be dependent or neglected they are removed from the home by a court order either petitioned by a Relative or the State (Department of Children Services). This growing burden falls on a system that struggles with limited funding and recruiting foster families. One alternative to supplement insufficient foster care resources during this opioid epidemic and parental incarceration is to acknowledge and support the critical role that family members have historically played in providing for children in times of need through what is known as Kinship Care.

Kinship care refers to guardianship over a child by a relative, often a grandparent, aunt or uncle, who care for children when parents are unable or unwilling to care for their own children. Legal custody is given to the approved relative instead of the state. The resources for these families are slim to none. Foster Care families receive $27+/day per child, which is a drastic contrast to Relative Care givers who receive $6.67/day for one child, decreasing to $3.99/day for each additional child. This is a gap that needs bridging, since the prevalence of grandparents and relatives serving as caregivers has spiked, due in large part by the opioid crisis.  

For these children to have a fair chance in life their basic needs must be meet. When a person’s life abruptly changes due to becoming the temporary custodian of their relative’s child, they may not be prepared to provide all the necessities the child requires to not only survive but thrive as well.  It is better for a child’s mental and emotional well being to be with a relative who loves them than in the foster care system. The financial, legal, and emotional issues of raising a relative’s child can be challenging. 

Generations United, a nonprofit working with kinship care providers, reports that grandparents and other relatives raising children actually save taxpayers $4 billion each year by keeping the children out of the foster care system, but many of those grandparents and relatives are struggling.

·         21 percent live below the poverty line,

·         39 percent are over 60, and

·         26 percent have a disability. 

While few would say this themselves, in many ways they are also victims of the opioid crisis.

We can’t afford to ignore the needs of our children during this crisis, or the fact that family members are often taking on new guardianship roles without adequate assistance. If we are to continue our response to the opioid crisis with an adult-focused lens, we will miss an opportunity to help ensure a brighter future for the children who lie in the epidemic’s wake. 

0 have signed. Let’s get to 500!
At 500 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!