South Carolina to Boost Financial Assistance for Kinship Caregivers

Posted September 28, 2023
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
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South Car­oli­na is launch­ing a pro­gram that, come Jan­u­ary 2024, will offer fund­ing to care­givers who are par­ent­ing anoth­er fam­i­ly member’s child.

Licensed kin­ship care­givers whose guardian­ship role spans at least six months and stems from a signed fam­i­ly court judge’s order are eli­gi­ble to apply for the pro­gram and receive month­ly pay­ments. Called South Carolina’s Kin­ship Guardian Assis­tance Pro­gram (KinGAP), the pro­gram fol­lows a pol­i­cy already set in 40 oth­er states.

Com­pen­sa­tion for Kin­ship Caregivers

Nation­al­ly, more than 2.5 mil­lion chil­dren are in kin­ship care arrange­ments. Yet, many kin­ship care­givers — espe­cial­ly grand­par­ents and old­er rel­a­tives liv­ing on fixed incomes — find the added costs of guardian­ship chal­leng­ing. Finan­cial insta­bil­i­ty and uncer­tain­ty can even pre­vent them from com­mit­ting to a long-term or per­ma­nent par­ent­ing role.

Against this back­drop, KinGAP — with its promise of added finan­cial sup­port for South Carolina’s kin care­givers — could play a vital role in ensur­ing more chil­dren and youth can remain in the care of rel­a­tives when they can­not stay with their par­ents,” says Meha Desai, a senior asso­ciate with the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

South Car­oli­na Depart­ment of Social Ser­vices (DSS) offi­cials expect KinGAP to pro­vide much-need­ed finan­cial sup­port and sta­bil­i­ty for about 250 care­givers who want to con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing homes for chil­dren and youth in fos­ter care.

For sev­er­al years, the Casey Foun­da­tion has pro­vid­ed help and resources to help South Carolina’s DSS, young lead­ers and com­mu­ni­ty-based advo­cates col­lab­o­rate on improv­ing poli­cies, prac­tices and pro­grams to bet­ter serve chil­dren and fam­i­lies. Increas­ing equi­table sup­port for kin­ship care­givers has been a major goal of this work in addi­tion to strength­en­ing fam­i­lies to keep them togeth­er and devel­op­ing alter­na­tives to plac­ing chil­dren in group care.

Many state and local groups advo­cat­ed for KinGAP in South Car­oli­na, which Gov. Hen­ry McMas­ter signed into law in May 2023, including:

The Impor­tance of Kin­ship Caregivers

Today in South Car­oli­na, more than 25% of kids in fos­ter care are placed in licensed kin­ship care set­tings, and this trend is — by design — on the rise, accord­ing to Michael Leach, who directs the state’s DSS.

Kin­ship care­givers can pro­vide famil­iar­i­ty and com­fort when it’s need­ed most,” says Leach, who defines his agency’s ori­en­ta­tion as a kin-first mindset.”

Research shows that kin­ship place­ments offer young peo­ple an impor­tant sense of belong­ing and sta­bil­i­ty as they main­tain con­nec­tions to their com­mu­ni­ty and with their fam­i­ly mem­bers,” adds Desai.

Learn more about kin­ship care

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