08/13/2006 - I agree with the Star-Banner editorial "Family values at work and overlooked" (Aug. 6) that it is unfair relative caregivers do not receive the same supports and services that foster parents receive, when doing the same important work of raising and loving a child in need.Pending national legislation would give states the option to use federal funds to support relatives who care for foster children when adoption or reunification with their parents is not possible.
Currently, there are 20,000 foster children living with relatives who could exit the system today if federally supported guardianships existed. Such assistance for guardians would allow children to exit foster care to a loving family while providing dedicated caregivers support equal to that which they would have received if the child stayed in foster care.
In short, federally supported guardianships would help thousands of kids grow up in a safe and loving family rather than the foster care system. The state would likely have fewer administrative costs, and grandparents would no longer have to make choices between prescription drugs for themselves and new school clothes for the kids.
What better way to show our respect and gratitude for those who are providing safe and permanent homes to children?
Donna M. Butts is executive director of Generations United.