Kinship Care

What is ‘kinship care’? Sometimes, parents become unable to care for their children due to substance use, incarceration, financial struggles, lack of family planning, deportation, death, and more.  It’s at these times when relatives are asked to raise their grandchild, younger sibling, niece or nephew, or cousin. These relatives raising their relatives are called ‘kin caregivers’ and this new family unit is called a ‘kinship family’.

Research demonstrates that children are typically better off with a kin caregiver rather than entering the foster care system. The Children’s Bureau and Allies for Children share that youth in kinship care have minimized trauma, increased stability and permanency, and improved behavioral and mental health outcomes. Kinship care preserves children’s familiar environments, cultural identities, and community connections. 

Milez’s Kinship Adoption Story

Greenlight Family Services recently helped one kinship family maintain permanency through adoption despite trying times. Due to unforeseen circumstances, Milez was placed in the care of his maternal grandparents when he was less than two years old. Shortly after, they legally adopted him. Over the next seven years, both of Milez’s grandparents passed away. Luckily, Milez had an adoptive sister willing to open her heart and step up to take him into her care. She and her husband recognized the importance of maintaining permanency and stability for nine-year-old Milez through this time of loss and change. They moved into Milez’s home just one day after his grandfather’s passing and began pursuing adoption through Greenlight’s post-adoption services.

Over several months, Greenlight Family Development Specialist Angela Gore created a subsidy package that included all the services that Milez may need to thrive in the future. Angela helped finalize Milez’s adoption so that the family could preserve permanency through kinship care. “What touched me was how determined this family was to adopt Milez and make the family whole again,” Angela shared. “Milez has experienced a lot of losses, but he’s still a happy kid. He can move forward knowing that his adoptive sister loved him so much that she became his mom.” After finalization, the family celebrated by taking Milez to his first-ever hockey game. Milez later on told his new mom that “getting adopted was the best day ever!” 

Greenlight’s Kinship Care Program

Today, we would like to announce the launch of our dedicated Kinship Care Program to better serve all kinship families in Illinois. Through a generous grant from the Illinois Department on Aging, Greenlight was able to hire a Kinship Resource Worker to offer specialized services for kin caregivers. Greenlight’s Kinship Care Program offers casework management, assistance acquiring funds and benefits, and legal aid for adoption or guardianship. 

Through the generous funding of the Illinois Department on Aging, Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, and the Illinois Bar Foundation, Greenlight offers the following services for kin caregivers:

  • Casework Management:
    • A dedicated Kinship Resource Worker serves every kinship family. They will guide you through all the services and benefits available to you.
  • Funds & Benefits Assistance:
    • EFSP (Extended Family Support Program) – Subsidized Daycare, School Enrollment, Funds for Furniture, Clothing, and Other Essential Items
    • SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) – Food Benefits
    • WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) – Special Checks for Healthy Foods
    • TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) – Monthly Grant $ including the Child Only Grant
    • Social Security – Benefits Paid to Grandchildren and/or Disability Benefits
    • Medical Care – Employer-Provided Insurance, Medicaid, Illinois AllKids Coverage
    • Child Support Collection
  • Legal Aid: 
    • Legal Custody – Empowers caregivers to enroll their child in school, consent to medical treatment, manage benefits, and make other vital decisions on the child’s behalf. Greenlight attorneys can help you obtain legal adoption or guardianship.
    • Custodial Back-up Planning 
    • Read More Adoption vs Guardianship, Legal Custody, Adoption, Guardianship

If you or someone you know are raising a relative, contact Greenlight at 773-728-7800 or and ask for the Kinship Care team. 

Help the Kinship Care team spread the word about available services; contact us to arrange a presentation at your community group or workplace meeting.

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