“I never thought I’d be here”
This statement – or one very similar – is often tearfully verbalized by a loved one who has found themselves charged with the care of someone else’s child. Most often these caregivers are a family member – maybe a grandparent, aunt, uncle, or even an older sibling. Sometimes the caregiver is a family friend who became the best alternative for a child’s care in the absence of parents.
The number of children living with someone other than a biological parent has become an increasing concern. Among the 3.1 million children not living with a parent in 2018 (4% of all children), 1.7 million (54%) lived with grandparents, 650,000 (21%) lived with other relatives, and 775,000 (25%) lived with non-relatives. Of children in homes of non-relatives, 294,000 (38%) lived with foster parents. In 2020, reports indicate the number of children being raised by grandparents has now risen to a staggering 2.7 million. There are various reasons for this trend, but substance addiction is the primary factor. Secondary factors can include incarceration, mental health problems, financial stress and marital discord.
“I feel so guilty, but I can’t do this anymore”
Caring for someone else’s child is complex and involves relational challenges, legal ramifications, financial commitments, as well as health and educational responsibilities. The magnitude of these complexities differs in every situation. Children separated from biological parents have higher incidences of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and are more likely to be diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Elderly caregivers often find themselves raising children with developmental challenges while managing their own compromised health and energy levels.
Other caregivers may be overwhelmed as they handle careers and parent their own children while balancing the responsibility of a niece, nephew, younger brother or sister. They are each faced with a limited ability to continue caring for a child they love and may have cared for during much of the child’s life. Many of these caregivers began the journey as powerful advocates for a child. They now struggle with the difficult decision to make a change and to trust someone else with the care of these children.
“There is hope and opportunity ahead”
Initial conversations with custodians almost always involve some degree of disbelief surrounding their current situation, anguish over the decisions they face, and certainly immense sadness for the children involved. During the intake and placement process, these sentiments begin to transform from despair to hope for what lies ahead for the child they love when placed with WinShape Homes.
Excitement emerges for the stability afforded to a child and the opportunity to be raised in a two-parent home. Academic options are provided to support each child’s strengths and interests. Children are served by WinShape Homes clinical staff to guide them through emotional healing. Custodians are able to meet loving house parents who reassure them of their commitment to serve the child’s needs physically, emotionally and spiritually. Hope is brought to the lives of children…and their caregivers.
For over 30 years, WinShape Homes has served children who need a family. Offering a unique niche in the foster care community, we are able to care for children who do not have an option for reunification. Children enter our homes and find love, acceptance, safety and an opportunity for long-term family connection. Additionally, WinShape is uniquely able to serve sibling groups to help maintain those important relationships. Established through the passion and vision of Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A, our program continues to thrive through the generosity of the Cathy family.
If you or someone you know are struggling to provide care for a child, our intake staff is available to help. A counselor will explore the child’s needs and assess if WinShape Homes might be the best program to meet those needs. For additional information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 404.765.8079.