Here are some resources that may help.
Kids Matter Inc. – provides assistance to foster and kinship families, including grandparents raising grandchildren, young adults raising younger siblings and all forms of extended kinship families. In addition, the Fostering Healing Program helps children who are crime victims, victims of trauma, have lost a parent due to homicide or when children who have experienced domestic violence are placed with a kinship caregiver. The Fostering Healing Program provides targeted in-home support for the child and the caregiver. The program also helps kinship care families apply for crime victim compensation. The Volunteer Attorney Program provides volunteer attorney assistance to grandparents and other family members raising children in the areas of guardianship, kinship support, access to medical insurance and health care, school matters, and some Supplemental Security Income (SSI) questions. Call 414-344-1220.
Professional Services Group, Inc. – In Milwaukee County, Professional Services Group (PSG) works with families caring for children of relatives who may be eligible to receive financial assistance. PSG representatives visit the home to learn why the child is not living with the parent and determine eligibility for kinship assistance. DMCPS and PSG administer the program for Milwaukee County. To learn about kinship care programs statewide visit https://dcf.wisconsin.gov/kinship.
Grandparents Parenting Again is a support group at the Women’s Center in Waukesha for grandparents who are parenting or playing a significant role in raising their grandchildren. This free group offers support and encouragement in meeting daily challenges. To learn more call 262-547-4600 or visit http://www.twcwaukesha.org.
AARP Wisconsin is committed to helping grandparents throughout the state find the resources they need in their area where ever possible. Their office is a hub for information and resources that pertain to aging, but specifically around the topic of grandparents raising grandchildren. AARP Wisconsin is connected with a myriad of grandparenting resource agencies around the state and can put individuals in touch with the right agency to help address needs and concerns. They have also developed a state specific legal guide for grandparents that outlines what their rights are around specific topics such as adoption, custodianship, informal living arrangements, grandparent’s visitation rights, etc. It also outlines what financial resources the caregiver may qualify for in each situation. This guide is free and may be ordered by calling 866-448-3611 and leaving a message (name and address) at extension 6310. Contact Jeanne Benink at 866-448-3611. For more information visit http://www.aarp.org/states/wi/.
Preferences for kinship care: State policy requires that kin be considered first when an out-of-home placement is sought for a child under the care of the Division of Milwaukee Child Protective Services. Kinship care licensing / Foster care licensing: There is no separate licensing program for kinship foster parents who are eligible for Title IV-E foster payments. IV-E eligible kinship foster parents have to meet the same licensing standards and training requirements and receive the same foster care payment rate as non-kin foster parents. Kinship care relative caregivers who are not licensed are eligible to receive a kinship care payment of $220 per month, but they must meet basic eligibility criteria, including a criminal background check, before a kinship care payment is approved.
Subsidized guardianship programs: In addition to foster care payments and other benefits available to kin raising children in the foster care system, some states also have subsidized guardianship programs. Most of these programs offer ongoing subsidies to children who have left foster care to live permanently under the legal custody or guardianship of relatives. Wisconsin has been granted a waiver from the federal foster care requirements to offer this subsidy program to relative caregivers who want to assume legal guardianship. This program is limited to relatives who are licensed foster parents and caring for children from Milwaukee County, and who were under the jurisdiction of the Milwaukee County Children’s Courts. Kinship caregivers who want to learn more about this option should contact their DMCPS case manager.
State kinship care contact: Questions about Kinship Care should be directed State of Wisconsin Department Children and Families, at http://dcf.wisconsin.gov/ or call 608-267-3905.
Children are often eligible for state and federal benefits even if their caregivers do not have legal guardianship or custody. These programs include:
BadgerCare Plus: If you are a grandparent or other relative caring for a child, you may be eligible for BadgerCare Plus health insurance program:
Access: The Access webpage is a quick and easy way for people in Wisconsin to get answers to questions about health and nutrition programs. Go to https://access.wisconsin.gov/access/ to see if you might be eligible for food stamps or FoodShare, BadgerCare Plus, Medicaid, SeniorCare, and other programs.