There are more than 4,000 children being raised by relatives in Vermont, mostly by grandmothers. Many relatives are raising children in informal relationships, without benefit of services or support. The number of challenges, concerns, and issues facing grandparent caregivers is overwhelming, such as legal problems, school issues, financial concerns, medical needs, housing, daycare arrangements, and more.
The Brookdale Foundation, Relatives as Parents Program has awarded a state wide grant to Vermont. Over the course of the next two years, materials will be developed for relative care givers that outline services available to them, and that simplify the process of applying for services.
A guide will be published on “How to Apply for Guardianship” as many relative care givers in Vermont are unaware of the services available. Many more aren’t clear on how to apply for legal status, which will enable them to register children in school, and access health care.
AARP is supporting the initiative and helping to reach out to Vermonters raising relatives those who might know someone in that situation. The first step is to identify the audience for the new materials. A collaborative relationship with many public and private organizations will establish support groups across the state, and will also collaborate with all existing support groups. In addition to AARP, other collaborators include the Parent Child Centers, the University of Vermont Extension Service, Vermont Kin as Parents, the Kids Apart Program, and the Vermont Department for Children and Families.
If you are a relative care giver, or know someone who is, you may get more information online www.vermontkinasparents.org or call (802) 338-4725.