ARTICLES / Children / When
Family Ties Turn into Entanglements... /
By Judy Paschalis
Many relative caregivers are natural nurturers.
They are very happy to have the “pitter patter of
little feet” in the house.
The relatives may find they worry less about the
children when they are living with them. They
know what the kids are doing, with whom and when.
Some simply enjoy children and enjoy
participating in the activities that involve
children – sports, scouts, coloring, reading
stories, children’s movies, etc.The relatives may
realize that they have special skills such as
teaching, carpentry, music, cooking and other
talents that they can pass along to the children.
Because of their life experiences and maturity,
they may be well-equipped to help a child grow in
all ways, including spiritually.
On some level, the grandparents may feel, rightly
or wrongly, that they are “making up” for the
mistakes they made with their own children. They may
feel that this is their chance to “do things right.”
They know that they are providing a safe, orderly,
drug-free environment for their grandchildren.
And, happily, sometimes, the relatives see a
change in the birth parents that leads to the
children being able to live with their biological
One Community’s Response
For the more than 6,000 families in Lucas County
in northwestern Ohio, in which relatives are raising
children, the Kinship Navigator Program exists to
guide them to services. The Program is
sponsored by the Area Office on Aging of
Northwestern Ohio, Inc., located in Toledo, with
funding from Lucas County Job & Family Services and
the Family Caregiver Support Program.
Most of the kinship famlies locally and
throughout the nation are “informal” arrangements,
meaning they have had no contact with the courts or
any child-serving agency. However, Lucas
County Children Services does place many children
with relatives. Both the Kinship Navigator
Program and Lucas County Children Services refer
families to each other’s services as appropriate and
both sponsor education and training programs for
kinship families to which all families are referred.
The Kinship Navigator Program guides relatives
- Financial assistance from Job & Family
Services, regardless of the family’s income
- Health care coverage for the children,
regardless of the family’s income
- Legal advice and counsel
- Behavior counseling and parenting advice
- Recreation and enrichment activities and
- Education and support