Posted at: 05/24/2012 4:58 PM
Updated at: 05/24/2012 5:21 PM
By: Brianna Long
Kinship Care on the Rise
(ABC 6 News) -- Nearly 21,000 Minnesota children are being raised by family and friends other than their parents. That's according to a new Kids Count study from the Annie E. Casey foundation.
"This is a picture of my daughter, Kathleeen," said Susan Morrison. She has four children, all of them are now adults. Three years ago, she was shocked to find that her daughter, who suffers from mental illness, was pregnant.
"I was terrified. I was terrified because she was on a lot of medications and she had not told her psychiatrist that she was going to get pregnant and then I was terrified about, would she be able to parent," she said.
Morrison now has sole custody of her 2-year-old granddaughter Cadence, but it comes with it's fair share of challenges.
"People my age group don't have 2-year-olds, they don't have to get baby sitters, so my social life has changed dramatically," she said.
She's not alone. According to a new report, more than 2.7 million children in America were raised by grandparents or other relatives at some point in their lives. It's called "kinship care" and in Minnesota, about 2%, or 21,000 children are experiencing it.
"I am in awe of the amazing people that they are," said Carma Bjorson, who works with Childcare Resource and Referral in Rochester.
She heads up a program called "grandparents, parenting again." She says the numbers are positive because it means kids are staying with family, instead of being placed in foster care.
"It's better for the child to be with someone the know. It's much less scary," she said.
For Morrison, it's not about feeling good, it's about making sure this little girl has all the love and support she needs.
"Things have worked out. My hope was that my daughter can be as much a part of her life as possible and parent as much as possible. But its certainly not going to be in the traditional role," said Morrison.
If you are interested in the "grandparents, parenting again" program, you can contact Childcare Resource and Referral. Their website is http://www.c2r2.org/, and the phone number is 507-287-2020 EXT. 1547.