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Volunteers Caring for Texas Children Need Financial Support, Report Suggests

Filipa Rodriques/KUT News
A new report from the Center for Public Policy Priorities says more than 250,000 children in Texas are living with volunteer caregivers who need financial support.

In Texas, more than 250,000 children are living with grandparents or other volunteer caregivers, but a new report from the Center for Public Policy Priorities suggests that many of them are not up to the task financially and could use more support and guidance.

The report (read a PDF version) says caregivers like grandparents often have just enough savings for their retirement when they unexpectedly become caregivers for their grandchildren. Rachel Cooper, a senior policy analyst with the Center for Public Policy Priorities, says many caregivers are unaware of resources such as children’s Medicaid or Temporary Cash Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

"When they do receive it, we have one of the lowest payment rates of any state and we can do a much better job of supporting these kids," Cooper says.

That would prevent more children from ending up in the formal foster care system, she says.

While more than 250,000 Texas children live in these informal placements, 10,000 live in state-supervised kinship care and almost 17,000 are in paid foster care.

"We hope that the Legislature will look at this issue and see that we spend a lot of time and energy trying to fix the problems of the foster care system in Texas, which we should definitely be doing, but if these informal kinship placements fail, they way outnumber the number of kids in foster care," Cooper says.

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