Strengthening & Preserving Family Ties
(Project’s Goal: Accuracy, Clarity, and Consistency)
The Maryland Department of Human Resources, in its commitment to vulnerable children and adults recognizes that children belong with families, especially their family of origin when possible.
Nationally, Kinship Care is one of the fastest growing populations. The U.S. Census report reveals 4.5 million children live in households headed by grandparents and an additional 1.5 million live in households headed by other relatives. Research reveals that Kinship caregivers are families whose head of household may be a grandparent, an aunt, uncle, or adult sibling who might unexpectedly find themselves with the day to day physical responsibility for a child (ren) who is not their birth child. Many of these relative head of household are on a fixed income. Others are fully employed, but are now challenged with stretching their limited resources. Sadly, the parents of these children are struggling with substance abuse, mental illness, incarceration or an unwillingness to parent their child(ren). Some of the parents are deceased. Most relative caregivers feel a moral responsibility to accept the child(ren) into their homes instead of allowing the child(ren) to be placed in out of home care (foster care).
What is Kinship Care?
In Maryland, Kinship Care is designed to preserve family ties by assisting when possible with the needs of children, the biological parents and the relative providing 24 hour care, 7 days per week to the child. There are two categories of Kinship Care: Formal and Informal. In the case of Formal Kinship Care, the child has come to the attention of the State and is now in the custody of the State but is placed with a relative. In Informal Kinship Care, the child’s parent(s) voluntarily placed the child in the care of a relative by blood or marriage. Legal custody is not required.
Do I Qualify as a Kinship Caregiver?
A Kinship Caregiver is related by blood or marriage within five degrees of consanguinity or affinity to a child who is in your physical care.
What Benefits are Available?
- As a Maryland resident and relative caregiver you can apply on behalf of the child for cash assistance referred to as a “child only” grant. This grant is based on the child’s resources only.
- Click on Kinship Care Fact Sheet pdf for additional information.
The Child May Be Eligible for the Following Benefits:
- Temporary Cash Assistance “Child Only Grant”
- Child Support
- Food Stamps
- Child Care
- Maryland Energy Assistance Program (MEAP)
- Office of Home Energy Programs (OHEP)
Application Options Include:
- Submit an application on-line at https://mydhrbenefits.dhr.state.md.us/.
- Submit an application for medicard on-line at www.marylandhealthconnection.gov
- Call or write your local department of social services and request an application
- Go in person to your local department of social services for an application; you may complete the application while there, however there might be a wait before you are interviewed.
- As part of the interview process, the interviewer MUST complete a child support order.
- Consent for Healthcare Affidavit – Available to relative caregiver who does not have legal custody or guardianship of the relative child in their care. The caregiver must be able to verify relationship to the child and that the child’s parent(s) is not available. To receive this form, contact your local health department.
- Education Affidavit – Provides relative caregivers assistance in enrolling the child in school and allows the relative caregiver to be an advocate for the child in school matters when the parent(s) is not available. To receive this form, contact the child’s school
- The Guardianship Assistance Program – Provides relative caregivers on-going financial assistance who are seeking to become the legal guardian for a child who is in the custody of the local department of social services (foster care). Guardianship Assistance Program provides legal stability and permanency for a child who is unable to return home to their biological parents and where adoption has been ruled out as an option. This program allows relative caregivers to take full legal responsibility for children without terminating parental rights. The relative caregiver must be an approved kinship provider or foster family for the child for the last six consecutive months prior to receiving guardianship while receiving case management and supportive services from the local department of social services. The relative caregiver must enter into a guardianship assistance agreement with the local department of social services prior to the court awarding the relative caregiver guardianship.
- To Apply for Social Security Survivor’s Benefits or Supplemental Security Income – www.socialsecurity.gov.
List of Kinship Care Support Groups:
- Grandparent Family Connections
Colette Eaton, Intake Coordinator: 410-706-8716
- Grandparents as Parents of Howard County (GAP)
Valarie Harvey: 410-313-1918
- Progressive Life Center Kinship Care Program, Prince George’s County
Evette Clark: 301-909-6824
Links to Other Community Websites Providing Services for Relative Caregivers:
- MARYLAND STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
- MARYLAND DEPARTMENT OF AGING
- MARYLAND GOVERNOR’S OFFICE FOR CHILDREN
- FAMILY 2 MATTERS
- PROGRESSIVE LIFE CENTER
Links to National Organizations Advocating for Relative Caregivers:
- CHILDRENS DEFENSE FUND
- GENERATIONS UNITED
- GRANDFAMILIES STATE LAW & POLICY RESOURCE CENTER
If you have a specific question please type it here. Someone will contact you within 48 hours.
Contact for Additional Information:
Tina Bullock, Kinship Care Coordinator
Maryland Department of Human Resources/Social Services Administration
311 W. Saratoga Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21201