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An ABC/Time magazine poll released today reveals substantial concern for state foster care systems and public support for reforms to the system. According to the poll, nearly half of Americans feel the system isn't doing enough for the vulnerable children living in foster care. Generations United and other groups have highlighted the fact that many children in foster are being taken care of by grandparents and relatives but these families don't have the financial and legal support that other foster care families get. The need for policies like subsidized guardianships for these caregivers could help improve the lives of the more than 20,000 children who live with grandparents and other relatives in foster care.

There are currently more than 500,000 children in our nation's foster care system. About a quarter of these children live with relative caregivers in grandfamilies. For some of these children, subsidized guardianship could be the only viable option for exiting the system. This option permanently places a child with a grandparent or other relative who can provide a positive and nurturing home environment and becomes the legal guardian. At the same time, the guardian receives financial resources, just as foster families do, that make it possible to provide for the child's basic needs. In its landmark report, Fostering the Future, the Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care recommended that federal guardianship assistance be provided “to all children who leave foster care to live with a permanent legal guardian.”

“More than a quarter of the children and youth in foster care are being raised by relatives. At least 20,000 of these kids could benefit from subsidized guardianship if it were available,” said Donna M. Butts, executive director of Generations United. “For these kids the availability of subsidized guardianship means the difference between a safe permanent home and languishing for years in the system.”

GU recently released a report titled All Children Deserve a Permanent Home, which provides state by state data on the number of children living in relative foster care. The first of its kind report is available at www.gu.org. The report explains that allowing states to use federal Title IV-E foster care funds for subsidized guardianship would make permanent homes possible for thousands of children in need across the U.S.

"For some children in foster care, neither reunification with their parents nor adoption is a viable option,” said Carol Emig, Executive Director, Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care. “In those cases, the Pew Commission recommends subsidized guardianship as a route out of long-term foster care and into a safe, permanent family."

GU will be co-sponsoring a Capitol Hill briefing on June 8th at 10:00a.m. around one of the biggest reasons for children having to be raised by relatives—substance abuse. The briefing, being held in room 138 of the Dirkson Senate Office Building will focus specifically on the impact of methamphetamines on foster care and highlight recommendations for improving the child welfare system.

Generations United (www.gu.org) is the only national membership organization focused solely on improving the lives of children, youth, and older people through intergenerational strategies, programs, and public policies. GU represents more than 100 national, state, and local organizations and individuals representing more than 70 million Americans. Since 1986, GU has served as a resource for educating policymakers and the public about the economic, social, and personal imperatives of intergenerational cooperation. GU acts as a catalyst for stimulating collaboration between aging, children, and youth organizations providing a forum to explore areas of common ground while celebrating the richness of each generation.