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Health & Science

Children Living with Extended Family Get Less Than Foster Children

Across Texas, a quarter of a million children are living informally with grandparents and other relatives because their parents have died or can’t take care of them. A new report explains why those families need more support and services from the state.


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About 17,000 children live in foster care in Texas. The foster parents can access many social programs, including almost $700 a month in cash assistance to help take care of the child.

But fifteen times as many kids are living informally with grandparents and other relatives. And since those caretakers aren’t part of a formal state program, they can only get $93 a month.

“They’re put under incredible financial strain, taking in kids that they didn’t plan on having to raise, and yet there’s very little help,” said Rachel Cooper, a senior policy analyst with the Center for Public Policy Priorities, a progressive think tank in Austin.

Cooper wrote the new report “Keeping Kids with Family: How Texas Can Better Support Kinship Care.”   

Cooper found that many of these kinship caretakers simply don’t know about various programs they could apply for. But even when they do, it’s not enough support. Take that basic monthly grant allowed from Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF).

“We have one of the lowest rates in the country, so the maximum you can get per child is $93 a month, which doesn’t even cover the cost of basics, like diapers for an infant,” Cooper said.

“It doesn’t go far enough,” she added.

Cooper says those payments should be equalized with foster care payments, because it’s better to keep children out of foster care and with loving extended family whenever possible.

She says the legislature should pass a number of bills next year to help kinship caretakers.


“Keeping Kids with Family: How Texas Can Better Support Kinship Care” Report


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