Every kinship care family is unique. Unique in how they were formed. Unique in their configuration and support. Here are some examples:
Sally, 68, is a retired single woman living in a BC housing complex in Vancouver. A few months ago, her two grandchildren ages 4 and 6 were removed from their parents’ care due to the parents’ substance use, neglect and domestic violence. Sally was approached by MCFD to care for the children as an out of foster care option. Sally felt this was the best option for her grandchildren as she did not want to have them go into foster care. Although Sally receives $1005.32/month per child to care for the children, she is quickly realizing this is not enough to care for them. The children need to see a dentist and Sally does not have extended health/dental benefits. The children are also displaying behaviors such as hoarding food, hitting, tantrums, and the youngest child has regressed and needs to wear nighttime diapers.
Sally also needs to find another home as she cannot stay in her one-bedroom apartment with two children. BC Housing is trying to help her find more appropriate housing, but this would also require her to pay for a move. Sally loves her grandchildren but never expected the level of care to be so extreme or for MCFD not to provide more services and support for her.
Joseph has been caring for his 16-year-old nephew Sam since he came to his home a month ago. Sam does not want to return to his parents’ care because he feels they have too many rules. Joseph called MCFD as he needs help to get supports as he does not have his own children and he feels he needs assistance with parenting a teen and some financial support. When Joseph met with MCFD they indicated they did not feel Sam was unsafe at his parent’s home, therefore they would not be involved. They referred Joseph to a local parenting class offered through a community agency.
Jennifer is a Metis caregiver to her Metis niece. She has had her niece in her care for 4 years, and is now under a 54.01 agreement with MCFD. She receives a monthly maintenance payment of $1005.32/month and her niece’s daycare is paid for in full with help from MCFD. Jennifer’s niece has several disabilities which qualify her for the children’s disability benefit. Although there was recent news that Jennifer’s monthly maintenance will increase by approximately $242/month as a result, she still cannot claim her niece as a dependent on her income tax return. Jennifer does not have extended health, dental or optical coverage and her niece requires daily medication and braces that she cannot afford.
Grace was approached by her adult daughter in 2009 to care for her then infant daughter, Amelia. Grace’s daughter was struggling with some mental health issues, and she felt it would be better for Amelia to stay with her mom. MCFD was involved initially to ensure Grace’s home was safe. They entered what was called a “Child in a home of a relative” agreement with Grace. The program is administered through the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. Grace does not have guardianship of her granddaughter, and it is still expected that her mom contributes to her financial needs (which does not happen due to mom living in poverty). Currently Grace receives $357.82/month for the care of Amelia as she is now 13 years old. She also is eligible for the Canada Child Benefit. Grace has extended health benefits, but as she does not have guardianship of her granddaughter, she cannot add her to her benefits. The Child in the home of a relative program was stopped in 2010 and there has not been any adjustments to rates since that time.
Emma is 72-year-old single Indigenous women living in a small community. When her grandson was removed from his parent’s care due to substance misuse, Emma worried she may lose connection with him. The social worker had placed him in a non-Indigenous foster home without even exploring her to care for him. Emma was advised by a legal aid lawyer she could apply for guardianship of her grandson under the Family Law Act. Through this process, the social worker said if Emma were to obtain guardianship of her grandson under the Family Law Act, the social worker would no longer be involved and it would be ok to live with her. This appealed to Emma and she was able to obtain guardianship of her grandson. What Emma was not aware of is that there would be no help from the social worker, whether it be financial, medical or dental coverage, or even emotional support for her grandson. Emma only receives the Canada Child Benefit although she can claim her grandson as a dependent on her Income Taxes.