There are a lot of relative caregivers across the state of Texas. While these individuals do their best to ensure that their relative children do not end up in the foster care system, they find it hard to pay for their medical bills and expenses, school supplies, clothing, and even food. Due to this, many Texans are happy to hear that Texas is finally taking the initiative to financially help relative caregivers around the state.
What is a relative caregiver?
A relative caregiver can be defined as a person who steps up to take care of their grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins, or any other relative. This usually happens when a parent has alcohol or substance abuse problems, as well as mental health issues and can no longer take care of their child. As a result, another family member will take the child into their home, care for them, and give them a thriving and comforting environment in which to grow up.
The most common scenario of a relative caregiver is a grandparent who raises their grandchild because their parent has an addiction, mental health problem, or simply cannot afford to take care of their child. Instead of allowing the child to enter the foster care system, the family member commits to raising the child on their own.
About the upcoming legislation to help relative caregivers
There is new legislation being proposed in Texas that may positively affect relative caregivers. The reason that this new legislation is emerging is because policy makers want to ensure that relative caregivers are given enough money to care for their young relatives. This bill is Senate Bill 908, which was introduced in February and read for the first time in March. Two other bills that have been brought forth regarding relative caregivers are House Bill 1431 and House Bill 2613. All three of these bills are similar as they have goals to get rid of the requirements to become “verified” just like foster parents. If the requirements are thrown out and more relative caregivers become verified, they will receive more money to help them pay and raise their relative children.
The idea in the past was that if relatives took in children, they were willing to do so without any extra money to help them. However, that is simply not possible in the modern-day world. Either a grandparent or elderly family member is surviving on a fixed or retired income, or a younger family member must quit their job or find a daycare to properly care for the child while they work. The extra funds are a necessity. Unfortunately, at this time, there is no sign if any of these three bills will move forward in the near future.
What expenses come with being a relative caregiver?
Many people do not realize the types of expenses that come with being a relative caregiver. Since most relative caregivers are grandparents who are in their 60s or 70s, they may be raising multiple grandchildren while living on a fixed income or retirement check. This can be very difficult when being a relative caregiver, as this duty comes with various expenses such as food, medical bills, clothing, school supplies, and extracurricular activities. On top of these expenses, the individual must still pay their rent or mortgage as well as their utility bills (electric, gas, water, etc.).
An article published in the Texas Tribune describes a relative caregiver’s experience. Her name is Beverly Morris, and she is a 63-year-old taking care of and providing for six of her grandchildren in a two-bedroom apartment in Texas. The grandchildren were taken out of their parents’ custody due to substance abuse and neglect. Morris’ goal was to make sure that her grandchildren were able to stay together and did not have to enter Texas’ foster care system. However, the state only gives her a check of around $2,000 per month to cover the expenses of taking care of her grandchildren. This money, which is only a small amount of what actual foster parents get for taking care of unrelated children, is usually only enough to cover her rent.
Are relative caregivers common in Texas?
The article explains that over 8,000 children, which is more than 40 percent of children who were taken out of their homes by Child Protective Services, are being cared for by relative caregivers. While this may sound like a lot, relative caregivers are still not financially supported by the states like they should be, and they are oftentimes not even the first option that Child Protective Services considers when it comes to children in need of homes.
What is kinship adoption and how does it work?
If you are taking care of a child who is related to you, you may want to consider kinship adoption. Kinship adoption will ensure that the young family member will remain with you legally and permanently. Instead of simply taking care of the child, you can legally adopt them to make sure that they will not be taken out of your custody, placed back into the care of their neglectful parents, or put into the foster care system. You will likely have to pursue certain steps to obtain kinship adoption, which includes the following:
- File the paperwork to adopt the child who is kin to you.
- Complete and turn in all necessary documents on time.
- Get consent or approval from the parents to adopt their child.
- Attend court hearings to show the judge that you are the best choice to adopt the child.
- Wait for the court’s decision.
A San Antonio family law attorney can assist you with every step of the kinship adoption process. Once you finalize the kinship adoption, this gives you parental rights that you did not have before the adoption.
If a child who is kin to you has been in your care for some time, it may be time to start thinking about officially adopting them. This will not only ensure that you have parental rights, but it will also provide a sense of safety and stability for the child. Call the office of Grable Grimshaw PLLC or complete our contact form at your earliest convenience to learn about kinship adoptions and how this can benefit you and the child.