President George W. Bush, on October 7, signed the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoption Act of 2008. The law benefits grandparent caregivers and their grandchildren, children being raised by other relatives, and children in foster care.
The bill makes $3 billion available over the next ten years to all 50 states and the District of Columbia to distribute monthly to families who take permanent custody of relatives who are children. This is a strong start to help the 4.5 million children nationwide being raised in households that grandparents head, as well as another 1.5 million children in homes that other relatives head, according to the AARP. Of those 6 million, AARP research shows that 2.5 million children are without their parents.
Many grandparents, some of whom have formed formal and informal advocacy groups across the country, have found it difficult to raise their grandchildren without financial assistance.
You can view the 90-page text of the law at the website of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The Children's Defense Fund and the Center for Law and Social Policy, in collaboration with Grandfamilies National Partnership Working Group prepared a universal short summary. The bill will promote permanent families for children by:
The bill also supports children and families by:
According to the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), 37 states and the District of Columbia have subsidized guardianship programs. This new federal law will help them reach more children. In addition, CLASP — a national membership organization focused on improving the child-support system and working "to establish child support as a major work-support for low-wage families" — said the law will also help keep children in school. Every child receiving federal assistance must be enrolled full-time in school, and child welfare agencies must help keep a child in his or her original school (or assist with a prompt transfer) while making placement decisions for a child in foster care.
How well do you get along with your grandchild and other family members? Want to know if your personalities mesh?Find out here.