The Grand Voice
Spring 2018 
Issue 1, Vol. 2
Photo: Tianlin Zhu
Top Stories

Family First Prevention Services Act Signed into Law 

In February, the Family First Prevention Services Act became law offering new opportunities for federal funds to help grandfamilies.  Read Generations United's brief and watch our webinar about the implications of the new law for grandfamilies and learn more.

 



Federal Kinship Navigator Program Funds Available to States- Apply by July 20th  
The Administration for Children and Families has released a program instruction that details how states, U.S. territories and qualifying tribes can apply for federal funds to develop, enhance or evaluate kinship navigator programs. Learn more.



60 Minutes Features Grandfamilies

In May, 60 Minutes aired a segment on grandfamilies impacted by the opioid epidemic, featuring the Grandfamilies program in Utah. Generations United helped provide background information for the program and was interviewed for a companion piece for the segment  that will be posted on their website soon. Here is a link to the show.

 


 

Sen. Tammy Baldwin Speaks about Growing up in a Grandfamily During NPR interview

In May, Senator Tammy Baldwin spoke on National Public Radio about her family's struggle with opioids and the important role of her grandparents who raised her. Hear the interview

Grandfamilies in the News GFNews

  • (US) (USA Today).  Generations United responds to inaccuracies about the Family First Prevention Services Act that were included in an article in USA Today, which was first posted by StateLine. (scroll down to "What our Readers are Saying")
Policy in Action PIA

Family First Prevention Services Act
The Family First Prevention Services Act was signed into law in February as part of the bipartisan federal spending bill. This long-awaited law will help the more than 2.5 million children and their caregivers in grandfamilies in a range of ways including offering federal funds for evidence-based  kinship navigators programs and services to grandfamilies to prevent the need for foster care, and by requiring states to examine barriers to licensing relatives as foster parents . Read short and long summaries and view a webinar on how it will affect grandfamilies. Additional resources and summaries of all of the provision of the  Family First Act are available at grandfamilies.org.



Kinship Navigator Grants
In March, Congress included $20 million in the Fiscal Year 2018 appropriations bill for states, tribes and U.S. territories operating Title IV-E programs to develop,enhance or evaluate kinship navigator programs to meet the evidence-based standards required for federal reimbursement under the Family First Prevention Services Act. These funds are available through a separate process from those required to access Family First Act dollars.  States must complete a brief, non-competitive application by July 20, 2018 to receive these funds. No matching funds are required. Nonprofits operating kinship navigators interested in accessing these funds to support their program must secure a contract with their  state child welfare agency.  Learn more from the Administration for Children and Families program instruction .



Harmful Changes to SNAP & TANF
In the  annual bill (known as "The Farm Bill")  authorizing money to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, aka food stamps), Congress has been proposing changes that would make it harder for grandfamilies to qualify for the program.

Here is a little more about the harmful changes to SNAP that Congress is considering:

  • Requiring the state to pursue child support from parents when the grandfamily caregiver of the parent's child applies for SNAP. This can endanger children in grandfamilies when it results in parents threatening relatives or trying to take the children. In addition, relatives are often conflicted about adding the burden of child support to the children's parents who may already be struggling to improve their lives.
     
  • Requiring caregivers under age 60 to work a minimum number of hours per week. This can prove difficult for caregivers who have to reduce their hours or are unable to work in order to better care for children.
     
  • Reducing the income eligibility. To qualify to receive any nutrition assistance under the proposed changes, a caregiver under 60 raising one child would have to make less than $21,500 per year.  
While this version of the bill has been defeated for now, it is likely that a newer version will include these same changes.

There are also a series of damaging changes expected to be proposed for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF, aka welfare) program. Stay tuned for further updates.
 
Generations United is collecting stories about families that have benefited from these programs to show the value of preserving them. If your grandfamily or a grandfamily you know or work with has benefited from SNAP and/or TANF please contact Adam Otto ( aotto@gu.org ) immediately so we can set up an interview with you and write up your story to share with members of Congress.


 
Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act
The bipartisan Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act, introduced  by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) in the Senate and Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Representative Peter King (R-NY) in the House, passed the Senate in March. It will now need to be voted on by the House. Read a summary of how the Act  will benefit grandfamilies here .



Senate Hearing on Opioid Crisis
In February, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee held a hearing on the impact of the opioid crisis on families . Watch the recording here and see Senator Tammy Baldwin's remarks about being raised by her grandparents here .



Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act of 2017 (H.R. 4547)
Social Security Subcommittee Chairman Sam Johnson (R-TX) and Ranking Member John B. Larson (D-CT) introduced H.R. 4547 in February. This bill, known as the
Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act of 2017 would, among other things,  make it less onerous for relative caregivers to receive Social Security survivor's benefits to provide for the children's needs.



South Carolina Grandfamilies Elevating Their Voices
On March 20th, 2018, the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina hosted the state's first "Kinship Care Day at the Capitol" in Columbia, after being inspired by last year's 5 th National GrandRally in Washington DC.  The day honored and empowered grandfamily caregivers across the state and brought their strengths and challenges to the attention of policymakers.  For an article about this powerful day, please click here .

Kinship Caregivers and staff from HALOS pose for a group picture on the statehouse steps. (Photo by Langley Shealy, director of Communications and Public Information, Sisters of Charity Foundation)

Grand Voices on the Move GV
Initiative to Elevate Voices of African American and American Indian & Alaska Native Grandfamilies convenes in Washington DC



GrAND Voice Jan Wagner Featured in Moving Hope Forward Press Conference
In May, Casey Family Programs conducted a press briefing entitled  Moving Hope Forward on the positive impact that the Family First Prevention Services Act will have on families featuring the voices of foster youth alumni, birth parents, and relatives caregivers, featuring GrAND Voice Jan Wagner. View it here .



GrAND Voices Total 66 Members Representing 42 States and 12 Tribes
In addition to the 25 new GrAND Voices supported by the W.K.Kellogg  Foundation, in January, Generations United welcomed another seven GrAND Voices to join the efforts related to our partnership with Casey Family Programs.  That partnership has a goal of improving grandfamilies' outcomes while reducing the need for foster care for children. Our combined GrAND Voices network now boasts 66 members representing 42 states and 12 tribes. Here are some additional highlights of  GrAND Voices activities  this year:  
  • In April, new GrAND Voice Jeannette Walker from Alaska attended the National Indian Child Welfare Association conference and shared her story during a workshop session with more than 100 attendees.
     
  • Also in April, Lynn Urvina from Washington provided her insights during a fishbowl discussion at a meeting in Chicago on how states that have Title IV-E waivers can share their lessons learned and move forward under the Family First Prevention Services Act.
     
  • In May, Victoria Gray of Arizona and Dolores Bryant of New Jersey attended a meeting in Phoenix hosted by Casey Family Programs  about "out of the box" visioning for a 21st century child welfare system.
     
  • In May, Jan Wagner of Michigan, Eugene Vickerson of Georgia, Pat Owens of Maryland, Gail Gallagher of Texas, and Linda James of New York came to DC to  thank members of Congress for their efforts on the Family First Prevention Services Act, share their stories and attend the annual Casey Family Programs board of trustees' dinner.
Proven & Promising Programs PPP


The Children's Home Network in the Tampa area of Florida offers a kinship navigator program with some of the most robust evidence in the country on the benefits of this type of program.  It includes several unique features of the kinship navigator model: one-e-application (online service portal site to apply for eligible benefits and services and administered in the home of a relative with a laptop computer), peer-to-peer support (hiring grandparents and other relatives who have lived the caregiving experience and can mentor and coach kinship caregivers), and an interdisciplinary team (a cadre of interdisciplinary professionals who unite to help kinship caregivers problem-solve complex issues). Children's Home Network is expected to be one of the first programs to qualify for federal funding for kinship navigators under the Family First Prevention Services Act.

Read about how the Children's Home Network helped GrAND Voice Chris Mathews' grandfamily . Chris is now employed by the program helping other grandfamilies.

Do you have a program you would like us to consider featuring? Email Adam Otto at aotto@gu.org
Freshly-Baked Resources FBR

Brookdale Foundation Request for Proposals: The Brookdale Foundation is requesting proposals for creating or expanding Relatives as Parents Programs. Apply by June 13.

 

Stories of National Foster Care Month: For National Foster Care Month, the Children's Bureau is putting out stories of children, youth, and families touched by the child welfare system. View them here.

 

GRAND Magazine: Jaia Lent of Generations United authored an article in the January issue of GRAND Magazine about caring for children in grandfamilies that have experienced trauma.

 

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, ASPE Brief: "Title IV-E GAP Programs: A Work in Progress", contains key data on implementation of the Guardianship Assistance Program (GAP), including states' usage, similarity to early implementation of adoption assistance, and cost savings for states as compared to children remaining in foster care. 

 

RAND Corporation Report: The RAND Corporation released a report on improving child welfare outcomes that highlights the importance of kinship care and prevention services.

 

Promoting Permanency for Older Youth Report: The Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative and National Center for Youth Law put out a report on foster youth permanency, highlighting the importance of kin.

 

Nursing and Kinship Care: The Washington Nursing Commission News, Spring 2018, included an article on how nurses can support grandfamilies in their work.

About 
Grand Voice is a quarterly e-resource for
grandfamily advocates and their allies distributed by Generations United's National Center on Grandfamilies. Grand Voice seeks to highlight key resources, policy updates, action opportunities, and program highlights to inspire and improve services and supports to grandfamilies across the U.S. Look for the next issue in your inbox this March. Sign up for Generations United's weekly e-newsletter, Generations This Week
here.

Do you have something you want to have considered for inclusion in an upcoming issue of the Grand Voice? Please contact Alan King at aking@gu.org.