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Children Living with Relatives | Why You Matter
Children Living with Relatives
Children in Washington ages 5-19 years old who live with relatives have been submiting essays sharing their feelings about being raised by a relative caregiver.  Winners of the Voices of Children contest visit the Governor's Mansion near the State Capitol Building in Olympia, WA. 

Children create inspirational pieces of written and/or visual art about their experiences being raised by a relative caregiver. Most children find safety and comfort in the arms and care of their family, including grandparents and other relatives.

For more than 2 million children in the USA, living with a grandparent, aunt, uncle, or other family member has become a permanent or long-term arrangement. When parents are unable or unwilling to care for their children, placing them with a relative caregiver can have some advantages. Kinship care reduces the trauma children experience when placed with strangers. It enhances childrenís sense of identity and self-esteem, continues connections children have to their siblings and other relatives, and strengthens the familyís ability to give children the support they need. Kinship care often comes as a surprise to both the child and the relative caregiver.

What does it mean to a child who canít live with their parents to know he or she is safe, loved, and has a place to belong? Some answers to this question are offered in the winning entries submitted to the Kinship Voices of Children Contest, coordinated by Family Education and Support Services in collaboration with Aging and Long Term Support Administration/DSHS, Lewis-Mason-Thurston Area Agency on Aging, and Kinship Navigators and advocates across Washington State.

Some of the entries are funny,
some serious or even sad, but all are sincere and offer testimony to the value, sense of family, and love each young artist experienced in living with a relative caregiver. For more information about this contest or to learn about Kinship Care Resources contact Lynn Urvina at 1-877-813-2828 or e-mail Lynn@FamilyESS.org.

From the 2017 essays:

I love you because you protect me!    Casey, age 7, Roy, WA

I am Taryn. I have been raised by my grandma since I was 3 years old I love her so much she does so much for me I don't know where I would be without my grandma. She is the love of my life I never want to lose her I have been through tough times when I am feeling down she cheers me up grandma has made sure I am busy like cheer leading basketball baseball gymnastics were also involved with church I am now taking Villon less0ons we go on vacations together my grandma comes to school and has breakfast with me when I have bad dreams my grandma is always there to comfort me.   Taryn, age 8 - Forks, WA

I am Thomas.  I am here to tell you about why I love living here with my grandma and grandpa and how it has made a positive difference in my life.  When I'm feeling sad and I want to give up they come and help me.  When I get mad they don't get mad and don't hurt me.  They are the best grandma and grandpa I could ever have.  Even though I make mistakes sometimes, they still think I am the best star, and this is why I love them.  They are nice to me and they are kind.  They got me a new back pack because I tore my old one. Even though I get angry and hurt them they never hurt me and be mean to me.  I love my grandma and grandpa!     Thomas, age 10, Port Townsend, WA

Hi, my name is Summer. I live with my grandparents, Diana and Levi, and with my brother Payton. My brother and I live with our grandparents due to the death of our mother and we don't live with our dad because he was the one who caused our mother's death. The positive things my grandparents do to make a difference in my life is, they always help me through everything, such as sports, grades, problems. They help my brother as well, my brother Payton has ADHD, and that makes him hyper. They work with my brother's teachers, to make sure he is doing good, and he is. My Nana and Papa are the best thing that has happened to me. They are really nice, they are loving and I love them so much. When we lived with our dad we were not doing good, now we are. We used to get bad grades, and always get into trouble. Now that Payton and I live with our Nana and Papa we have really good grades and don't get in so much trouble, and that's it. Thank you.    Summer, age 13 - Naches, WA

(Source: "Voices of Children 2017.  For more messages from children, see http://familyess.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/2017-VOC.pdf )
Local Organizations
Additional Resources

Kinship Care

Support for Family members raising a relative's child.  Benefits, Health care, Legal issues, Advocates, and more. 

Lifespan Respite

Find care for children, adults or elders.

National Respite Network and Resource Center