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Grandparents and Other R elatives R aising C hildren
A State Fact Sheet                                                                                                August 2002

Across the country, more than six million children -- approximately 1 in 12 children -- are living in
households headed by grandparents or other relatives. Alaska has nearly 11,000 children living in
households headed by grandparents or other relatives. In many of these households, grandparents and other
relatives are the primary caregivers (“kinship caregivers”) for children whose parents cannot or will not
care for them due to substance abuse, illness and death, abuse and neglect, economic hardship,
incarceration, divorce, domestic violence, and other family and community crises.

In response to the growing numbers of these kinship care families, state legislatures, public and private
agencies, and grassroots coalitions in Alaska and across the country have begun to expand services and
supports for children living with kin inside and outside of the foster care system.

A Look at the Numbers: Kinship Care in Alaska
The data below show the numbers of                                        These numbers were reported by the 2000 U.S.
grandparents who are living in households with                            Census and are available for every place (as
at least one grandchild under the age of 18, as                           defined by the U.S. Census Bureau) in the
well as the numbers of grandparents who are the                           country, including cities, towns, villages, and
primary caregivers for these grandchildren.                               boroughs, on the U.S. Census website.*

                                                       Grandparents Living in          Grandparents Responsible for
                                                     Households with One or More        Meeting the Basic Needs of
                                                     Own Grandchildren Under 18               Grandchildren

                               Location                            #                                  #

                    United States                            5,771,671                          2,426,730
                    Alaska                                    10,423                              5,419
                    Anchorage                                  3,847                              1,719
                    Juneau city and                               365                               174
                    Fairbanks city                                347                               177

*These data are taken from the U.S. Census Bureau Table DP-2. Profile Selected Social Characteristics: 2000. The U.S. Census
website is Detailed instructions on how to access this data can be found at

                        The Brookdale Foundation

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                                                                                                                 THE URBAN
Kinship Care Initiatives in Alaska
In Alaska, public and private agencies and                  provides a monthly newsletter, runs support
grassroots coalitions of grandparents and other             groups, and provides individual counseling
relative caregivers have begun working together             services for kinship care families in the
to expand the services available to kinship                 Anchorage area. In addition, No Empty Nest has
caregivers who are caring for children outside of           run a winter camp for the last five years that
the foster care system.                                     includes kinship caregivers and the children in
                                                            their care. Contact: Pat Cochran, Director of
Several of the major kinship care programs and              Prevention Services, Volunteers of America, at
supports are listed below. Additional support               (907) 279 -9646 or
groups can be found through the AARP
Grandparent Information Center Database. Call 1-            Training, Mentoring, and Support Services:
800-424 -3410, e -mail information requests to              Parents, Inc. provides services to those families,, or search AARP’s online kinship               including kinship care families, who have children
care support group database at                              with disabilities or those who are at risk of            developing disabilities including mental health
                                                            and behavioral disorders. Many parents and
Additional state and national kinship care                  caregivers utilize the support group services
resources and supports are available on the                 delivered through Parents Anonymous, parent and
Generations United website at,            caregiver training activities offered under IDEA-
and at and                       US Office of Special Education Programs, and the, two websites               Parent-to-Parent mentor network. Parents, Inc.
coordinated by grandparents raising                         provides training, mentoring, and support services
grandchildren.                                              throughout the state, with main offices in
                                                            Anchorage, Juneau, and Fairbanks. Contact:
Support and Recreational Services for Kinship               Shawnee Hart at (907) 337-7678 or
Care Families: Volunteers of America has          
recently assumed responsibility for a ten-year old
program known as No Empty Nest. This program

Kinship Care and Alaska’ Foster Care System
Sometimes children in the care of the states are             the same foster care payment rate as non-kin
placed in foster care with grandparents or other             foster parents. In some cases, however, the state
relatives. In Alaska, the Division of Family and             will reimburse non-licensed kin for certain one-
Youth Services (DFYS) reports:                               time expenses related to the care of the child. It
                                                             also provides some training opportunities to non-
Number of children in kinship foster care                    licensed relative caregivers.
placements: As of April 1, 2002, Alaska DFYS
had a total of 1,848 children in out-of-home-                Guardianship subsidies: In addition to foster
placements. Of these children, 596 (32.3%) were              care payments and other benefits available to kin
placed with kin. (This number includes both                  raising children in the foster care system, some
licensed and unlicensed relative foster homes.)              states also have subsidized guardianship
                                                             programs. Alaska has a subsidized guardianship
Preference for kinship placements: Alaska law                program that allows the state to make subsidy
requires that kin be considered first when an out-           payments to relative and non-relative guardians
of-home placement is sought for an abused or                 of children who are in state custody at the time
neglected child.                                             the guardianship plan is made. The state may
                                                             only award the subsidy if guardianship is the
Licensing for kinship foster parents: There is               permanent plan for the child, the subsidy is
no separate licensing program for kinship foster             recommended by the DFYS Permanency
parents. Kin have to meet the same licensing                 Planning Conference Team, the child meets the
standards and training requirements and receive              other established criteria, and the family has an

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approved guardianship study. (AK Stat. §§.                   Training and support for kinship foster
13.26.062, 25.23.1 90-25.23.240 and 47.14.100.               parents: Alaska contracts with the Alaska
Regs. at AK Admin. Cd., Volume 7, Sec. 53-                   Foster Parent Training Center, a private non-
200-53.250) Contact: Tracy Spartz Campbell,                  profit organization, to provide training
State Office Adoption Coordinator, at (907) 465-             opportunities for all foster parents in the state.
3631 or                                                      The training center has numerous training                     materials and self-study library materials that
                                                             provide specific information about relative foster
State foster care contact: Questions about                   care. The training center is also active in
kinship foster care placements should be directed            establishing and maintaining community support
to Izabel Bowers at (907) 465-2218 or                        groups for all foster parents, including relative                            caregivers. Contact: Deborah Hayes, Director,
                                                             at (907) 479 -7307 or 1-800 -478-7307.

Other Supports for Alaska Kinship Care Families
Children raised by kinship caregivers are often              information about these programs, contact (907)
eligible for a range of state and federal programs.          465-3347 or log on to
In most cases, kinship caregivers may apply for
these programs on a child’s behalf even though               Health insurance: Grandparents and other
they are not the child’s parents or legal                    relative caregivers may apply for free or low-cost
guardians. Some of these programs include:                   health insurance on behalf of the children they
                                                             are raising through the Denali KidCare
Cash assistance: Cash assistance may be                      program. In some cases, caregivers may also be
available to children and their grandparents and             eligible for free or low-cost coverage through
other relative caregivers through the Alaska                 Medicaid. For more information about how to
Temporary Assistance Program (ATAP)                          apply for Denali KidCare, call toll-free 1-888-
program. Kinship care families may also be                   318-8890 or, in Anchorage, (907) 269-6529.
eligible for food stam ps to help meet their                 Visit the Denali KidCare website at
children’s food and nutrition needs. For more      

State Laws and Policies
Alaska currently does not have any additional
state laws in effect specifically directed at
kinship care families.

Questions about this fact sheet or recommendations for additions to future versions
should be submitted to Jen Agosti, Casey Family Programs National Center for
Resource Family Support (CNC), at (202) 467-4441 or

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