By Robert L. Mues   |   February 22nd, 2008

There are many sites listing resources available for grandfamilies and grandparents having custody of children. One of the most comprehensive lists is included in the Generations United website. It lists national organizations and resources that might be of benefit.

Here is a list of Ohio programs that might be of assistance:

  • The Kinship Navigator Program is available in several counties in Ohio through county and community-based organizations. Navigators are available to provide information and referrals for other programs in the community for grandparents and other relatives. Service links may include health supports, educational services, financial resources, child care, legal services, support groups, and respite care. In some cases, the programs sponsor activities and specialized services for caregivers and children. To see if there is a program in your county, contact your local Department of Job and Family Services or call Kristen Burgess, Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, at (614) 752-1329 or burgek01@odjfs.state.oh.us.
  • The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services has published a statewide resource guide for kinship families, Relatives Caring for Children: Ohio Resource Guide. Information is provided about the availability of programs for kinship providers through local agencies. Contact: Help Desk, Office of Children and Families, at 1-866-886-3537 (option 4). The resource guide can also be accessed at http://www.odjfs.state.oh.us/forms/inter.asp.
  • Public Children Services Association of Ohio (PCSAO) works on public policy development, including improving supports and policies for kinship caregivers inside and outside of the child welfare system.
  • The Statewide Kinship Caregivers Advisory Council is an intersystem group of leaders from across the state representing kinship caregivers, child welfare administrators, policy makers, state and local service providers, and public community educators and advocates to develop public policy and support for kinship families raising children. Contact: Crystal Ward Allen, Chair and Executive Director, Public Children Services Association of Ohio at crystal@pcsao.org or Kristen Burgess, staff to the Council, at (614) 752-1329 or burgek01@odjfs.state.oh.us.
  • Wright State University Center for Healthy Communities supports the Ohio Kinship Caregiver Coalition. The coalition is comprised of more than 40 community agencies and caregivers meeting to benefit grandparents and other kinship caregivers. The coalition develops programs to meet caregiver needs and advocates for children in kinship care relationships. Trained kinship navigators are available to listen, answer questions, and navigate through systems to find resources and remove barriers for kinship families. Contact: Dionne Simmons at (937) 775-1116 or dionne.henderson@wright.edu.
  • The Ohio Kinship Grandparent Coalition is a statewide group comprised of kinship caregivers, child welfare agencies, and service providers. The purpose of the group is to identify kinship care issues and propose solutions to public and private agencies. A quarterly newsletter is published and made available to kinship caregivers. Contact: Ollie Jones at (330) 379-2104 or ojones@summitkids.org.
  • The Ohio State University Human Development and Family Sciences Extension Program offers a variety of resources for kinship caregivers and their families. Caregivers can access the program’s quarterly newsletter, The Hotline, which has been developed by the Extension’s Senior Series Team. Each issue contains articles on topics of interest to older adults and their families. You can also access the Senior Series Fact Sheets on different issues, including caregiving. Contact: Kirk Bloir at (614) 688-4203 or bloir.1@osu.edu.
  • Ohio State University Extension, Sandusky County offers a directory of resources on child care, clothing, education, employment, family support services, financial assistance, health care, hunger, housing and homelessness, and legal issues. The Directory was developed to assist grandparents who need help raising their grandchildren. Contact: Sharon L. Mader, Ohio State University Extension, Sandusky County Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, at (419) 334-6340 or sand@postoffice.ag.ohio-state.edu.
  • Ashtabula County Children’s Services Board provides support to relatives raising children through funding from the Family and Children First Council. Services include information and referrals, benefits assistance, court advocacy, home studies, and a newsletter. Contact: Katie Lane, Kinship Coordinator, at (440) 998-1811 (ext. 160) or LaneK02@odjfs.state.oh.us.
  • FirstLink offers the kinship assistance program, a voucher program for low-income families of children placed with grandparents and other relatives by Franklin County Children Services. Families can receive rent or mortgage assistance, bus passes, food cards, and beds and clothing for the children. Contact: Jessica Guy at (614) 221-6766 or jguy@firstlink.org.
  • Guernsey County Children’s Services provides the Guernsey County Kinship Support Group for grandparents and other relatives who are providing kinship care. The group offers community speakers and a licensed social worker to address the needs and concerns of the kinship caregivers. The program also organizes outings, family events, and kinship conferences. Contact: Jolene Williamson, Kinship Coordinator, at (740) 439-5555 or williamsj@odjfs.state.oh.us.
  • The Area Agency on Aging, District 7 serves grandparents and other relatives raising children in Adams, Brown, Gallia, Highland, Jackson, Lawrence, Pike, Ross, Scioto and Vinton Counties. The programs offered include a monthly support group and information and referrals for legal services, custody, respite services, recreational activities, educational materials, Medicaid and TANF. There are also recreational activities provided and volunteers available to provide babysitting services. Contact: Merritt Sessor at (800) 582-7277 or msessor@aaa7.org.
  • Parents Helping Parents sponsors weekly support groups in several locations across Lucas County (Toledo) for parents, grandparents and other relatives raising children. The groups provide information about child development, resources in the community, and available benefits. The support groups also provide an opportunity for caregivers to support each other. Contact: (419) 242-9001 or help@parentshelpingparents.net. The website is http://www.parentshelpingparents.net.
  • Sisters of Mercy H.O.M.E. Program’s Grandparents’ Support Group offers a warm and friendly gathering to share the joys and struggles of those raising their grandchildren/kin. Focus is also on resources and referrals to empower kinship caregivers. There are two groups that meet twice a month, one in the afternoon and the other in the evening. A grandparent leader and a licensed social worker form the leadership team. Meetings are held in the Walnut Hills area. Contact: Dennis Berling at (513) 221-1080 or (513) 221-1189 or denberl@hotmail.com.

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Robert L. MuesAbout The Author: Robert L. Mues
Robert Mues is the managing partner of Dayton, Ohio, law firm, Holzfaster, Cecil, McKnight & Mues, and has received the highest rating from the Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review for Ethical Standards and Legal Ability. Mr. Mues is also a founding member of the "International Academy of Attorneys for Divorce over 50" blog.

Information & Resources Available to Grandparents with Custody of Grandchildren

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