Assisting families, parents, and children in becoming stable and self-sufficient is an underlying goal of Children Services. Other services are available to help these specific groups individually. Specifically the Independent Living program helps youth ages 16-18 learn skills to become self-sufficient and productive adults. It also can assist youth ages 18-21 who have emancipated from foster care get on their feet. The Kinship Connection program is designed to assist families who are caring for children who are not theirs by birth, but are grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins, siblings, or even close family friends. The Strengthening Families program provided by Children Services aims to minimize adolescent problem behaviors by reducing family-related risk factors. Another service available to familes, provided at specific locations, is Safe Havens for Newborns. This is a service that allows for birth parents who are not ready to raise a child to safely abandon the newborn.
The Independent Living Program is designed to help youth ages 16 -18, learn self-sufficiency skills they need to be able to live as productive adult members of society following their emancipation from the program. The staff makes every effort to place the youth in a living situation that they will be able to maintain once they are emancipated and discharged from the Independent Living Program. Youth ages 18-21, who have already been emancipated from substitute care are also eligible to receive independent living services upon request.
Many skills areas are assessed including:
- Managing and budgeting money
- Educational skills and reaching educational goals
- Employment skills
- Decision making skills
- Health maintenance skills—including food preparation and storage and medical care
- Identification of and access to community resources
- Housing related issues
Scope of Services
- Life-skills development training
- Education and vocational training
- Preventive health activities
- Financial assistance
- Housing assistance
- Employment and education
- Self-esteem counseling
- Assistance with developing positive relationships and support systems.
Public children services agencies may also use a portion of their allocation to assist young, emancipated adults ages 18 - 21 with rent, rent deposit, utilities, utility deposit and other costs.
Click here for more Independent Living Resources (They are listed under the Children Services' accordion)
What is Kinship Care?
Kinship caregivers are grandparents, aunts/uncles, cousins, siblings, and close family friends who are often raising children when parents are unable or unavailable to care for them.
According to the 2000 US Census, over 186,000 grandparents in Ohio were the primary caregivers for their grandchildren, many caring for sibling groups. According to ODJFS, in January of 2004, there were 63,166 children living with relative caregivers or legal custodians, and receiving Child Only cash assistance of $245/month, plus about $77 for each additional sibling in the household. Public Children Services Agencies have custody of nearly 6,000 children each day that are placed in relative homes. Without a doubt, families are stepping up to care for these children in need, when the biological parents cannot.
Why Do We Support Kinship Caregivers?
Personal and family responsibility is a foundation for our society. We have an expectation of families to take care of their own and child outcomes are better when they do.
While Children Services works to strengthen families that are struggling to positively care for their own child, kinship offers an important option when the child cannot safely remain in their own home. Foster care is a valuable and necessary resource, however in many cases, we know children grow better living in safe, familiar homes as opposed to safe but unrelated foster care. Kinship care reduces the trauma of foster care, as well as the governmental costs associated with paid placement. It is emotionally and fiscally sound policy.
How are Kinship Families Different from Other Families?
Kinship families are different from birth families, in that the caregiver did not plan to raise the children in their care, but agreed to take on the task when needed! We all live within our current means, adding in a little one with new child care costs, or a teen with significant clothing, grocery and school activities fees is an unexpected financial and emotional strain.
Kinship families are different from unrelated foster caregivers as well. Foster care is a contractual business arrangement with a daily per diem rate, many regulations and additional red tape. While safety assessments and discussion of child needs is common to both kinship and foster care, kinship care is not a contractual business arrangement - they are family to kids, and hence, less likely to experience movement of the child between families. Yet that family still experiences the everyday costs of raising a child, thus it is critical to support them in a variety of ways.
Kinship families may also be different from adoptive families. While open adoption is becoming more and more common, there is no question that kinship families have a higher level of knowledge and often interaction with the birth parent. While judicial permanency is encouraged for all children, the discussion of how and when to achieve that permanency may be a different conversation when the parent is also the caregiver’s child or sibling…thus, it is important to seek permanency, but the conversation may be different than for traditional adoptive parents.
The Kinship Permanency Incentive program
The Kinship Permanency Incentive Program provides time-limited incentive payments to families caring for their kin. Eligible families will receive an initial payment of $525 per child to defray the cost of initial placement and may receive $300 per child at each of six month intervals. Program eligibility per child is limited to 36 months.
Requirements of the Kinship Permanency Incentive Program
A judge awarded legal custody of the child to you after July 1,2005. Your income is not higher than 300% of federal poverty guidelines. To receive the cash payments, eligible families must apply through their county public children services agency and complete a family home assessment. KPI payments are in addition to Ohio Works First cash assistance received for the child. This program does not require a Children Services agency to have ever held custody of the child.
Call the agency for more information and any questions you may have. The office is open weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Please request to speak to Erika Fuson, at (419) 563-1570 extension 236.
Crawford County Kinship Connection Program
Crawford County offers:
- Information & Referral to Help Link to Community Resources
- Support Group - A support group has been established for kinship caregivers to share hopes, victories and challenges. We hope families can build support and create strong relationships for support when needed. See the Events Calendar for dates and more information.
- Application Process Information for the Kinship Permanency Incentive Program
- Kinship Newsletter
- Case Management – to help kinship families in times of need
For more information, please contact the Kinship Coordinator (toll-free)1-877-419-6049 ext. 235. Also for more information you can view the Kinship Care Brochure.
Click here for More Kinship Resources (They are listed under the Children Services' accordion)
Strengthening Families Program
The goal of Strengthening Families is to reduce family-related factors for adolescent problem behaviors. The program sets to accomplish this goal from four different angles by:
- Helping parents/caregivers learn nurturing skills that support their children
- Teaching parents/caregivers how to effectively discipline and guide their youth
- Giving youth a healthy future orientation and an increased appreciation of their parents/caregivers
- Teaching youth skills for dealing with stress and peer pressure
Strengthening Families instills the understanding of how to effectively intervene in the lives of young people before they engage in behavior that is likely to have serious, long-term consequences. The program helps youth prepare for teen years, avoid problems with drugs and alcohol, and strengthen family communications.
The program was developed by the Center for Family Research at Iowa State University. There are more than 20 years of research on the factors that promote and prevent youth problem behaviors.
The program is broken down into seven sessions and the group meets once per week for seven weeks. Each session lasts for two and a half hours. There is no charge for this program and a meal is provided at each session.
For the first hour parents and youth meet separately. Parents discuss what youth this age are like, making rules and consequences, how to solve problems with youth, and ways to show love and support. Parent topics include: Love and Limits, Making House Rules, Encouraging Good Behavior, Using Consequences, Building Bridges, Protecting Against Substance Abuse, and Getting Help for Special Family Needs. Youth will learn to handle frustration, resist peer pressure, appreciate parents/caregivers, and get along with others. Youth topics include: Having Goals and Dreams, Appreciating Parents, Dealing with Stress, Following Rules, Dealing with Peer Pressure, Peer Pressure and Good Friends, and Reaching Out to Others.
The second hour the family comes together for fun time to work on new skills building. The family will have fun in activities and games, discuss what makes your family strong, and solve problems together. Family topics include: Supporting Goals and Dreams, Appreciating Family Members, Using Family Meetings, Understanding Family Values, Building Family Communication, Families and Peer Pressure, and Putting It All Together.
For a printable brochure, view the Strengthening Families Brochure.
To get more information contact Kim Duncan at Crawford County Job & Family Services at 419-563-1570 extension 249. The program is held at Crawford County Job & Family Services at 224 Norton Way, Bucyrus, Ohio 44820.
What is Safe Havens for Newborns?
Safe Havens for newborns provide an option to birth parents, who are not ready to raise a child and feel their only option is to abandon the baby. Using a Safe Haven for newborns ensures the child is left in a safe and appropriate place. This law allows the birth parent(s) to leave an infant (up to 30 days old) with:
• A medical worker in a hospital
• A medical worker at a fire department or other emergency service organization; or
• A peace officer at a law enforcement agency.
Birth parents will not face legal consequences for leaving the infant with a person at one of these places provided the child has not been abused.
Questions regarding Safe Havens for Newborns
Who is able to take a child to a safe haven?
Only newborn’s birth parent (mother or father) is able to take a child to a Safe Haven and be protected under the law.
Do Safe Havens need to be called before a birth parent can take a newborn to the location?
No. A newborn can be taken to a Safe Haven by a birth parent any time until the child is 30 days old.
Do the birth parents have to provide any information?
No information is required to be given by the birth parents, including his or her name. It is helpful if birth parents choose to provide the newborns basic health information. If the birth parents choose to provide the basic health information, a guide will be offered to them, so they can provide the most significant health related information.
What happens next?
If needed, the newborn will be provided with medical care. The county’s children services agency will be contacted by the professional staff person who accepted the baby and the baby will then be placed into an adoptive home.
Safe Havens may be the best choice for a newborn who cannot be cared for by his/her birth parent. However if a birth parent is unsure about the best decision for his/her child, information can be provided to the birth parent on available options and services for birth parents and their babies by an adoption social worker at Crawford County Children Services at 419-562-1200. Information can also be obtained through Help Me Grow at 419-562-4667. In addition, Help Me Grow can be contacted to get information about caring for and raising children if a birth parent wants to raise the baby but does not know how.