Grandparents’ Many Roles With Their Grandchildren
Grandparents contribute to the lives of their grandchildren in more ways than most people could imagine. For some youngsters, grandparents live far away and are really only seen at holidays. For others, grandparents are an extension of the nuclear family.
For some young people, grandparents step in to provide care when parents are unable to do so. For some, this means basic grandparent visitation, such as babysitting their grandchildren while parents work. Sometime is means more – overnight or extended stays with grandparents,
In some instances, family needs suggest a much more involved role. Some grandparents care of their grandchildren on a daily basis. When a child requires day-to-day care from someone other than their parents, foster care is often the first choice for immediate needs.
Grandparents are often the closest family members who are well suited to provide foster care. Oklahoma grandparents rights laws recognize the value of family ties. Oklahoma not only allows grandparents to assume a formal role as foster parents, it also prefers family members as caregivers when a child’s nuclear family is disrupted.
Grandparents as Foster Parents in Oklahoma
Sometimes children may need to be placed in a different living situation as parents battle addiction, or are incarcerated or are dealing with other intense life problems that take them from their children. In this case, a child may be placed in the temporary care of another. This is usually done as a foster care placement.
In this case, the Department of Human Services steps in and removes the child from the home temporarily and placing that child in another setting until the problems at home can be rectified by the parent or parents involved.
Foster parents do not have custody over the child involved. The Department of Human Services does. Yet, allowing children in state custody to live with other relatives has in recent years received increasing legislative and community support in all jurisdictions, including Oklahoma.
Children who are allowed to live with their grandparents do better in the shorter and longer term than do children placed in traditional foster care. Their trauma of removal is less. Most children have a positive relationship with their grandparents. There is less upheaval in their lives, and overall, their feeling toward parents and toward family tends to remain more positive. And the child’s level of depression and anxiety may be much less when they are placed with their grandparents. For these reasons, grandparent foster care can be a better option for the children involved.
In fact, Oklahoma law specifies its preference in placing children with relatives over other foster care placements. Oklahoma law strives to put in place a plan which will support a permanency plan for the child and the family.
Oklahoma’s Department of Human Services will actually search for relatives and contact them first to see if they are able to take care of the child or children involved. If a relative such as a grandparent takes the child in as a foster parent, the grandparents must keep DHS apprised of their current address.
in Oklahoma, grandparent foster care is often a stepping stone to being awarded custody if the children are not able to reunite with their parents. When a grandparent cooperates with the DHS in terms of placing the child in their home, it is more likely that the grandparents will be considered for custody or guardianship of the grandchildren should the need arise.
Steps to Becoming a Foster Parent for your Grandchildren
In all matters regarding the welfare of children, courts are guided by what is in the best interests of the child. Therefore, while a parent moves toward or away from reunification with the family, the less trauma the child experiences, the better.
Grandfamilies, or kinship foster families, often provide a less traumatic bridge toward reunification when that is possible. In 2007, Oklahoma shifted its goal from not preserving families to adopting practices which help preserve and reunify families. And when reunification is not possible, a grandparent, especially one who has been acting as the child’s foster parent, may be eligible to adopt their grandchild.
The basic requirements for becoming a foster parent of any child in Oklahoma include the following. You must:
- be 21 or older;
- be in good health;
- have space to accommodate the child or children;
- have sufficient income;
- have some training and allow home visits; and
- care for and nurture the child.
The assessment also includes completion of the DHS forms, reference and background checks, fingerprinting, a complete family assessment of all people who live in the household, and verification of auto insurance.
There are also classes or training sessions that you must attend. The training is required by the state of Oklahoma. Both grandparents must attend the training sessions. This provides both grandparents with a sense of the process, what services are available to help, and about the requirements. The training is also intended to help grandparents understand how to best transition a child to foster care.
Once approved, the child or children are placed with the grandparents and a case worker is assigned. The case worker will keep regular contact with both the child and the grandparents.
Going through this process can be daunting for grandparents. A Tulsa grandparents foster care attorney can be part of a team of professionals who can make this transition easier for everyone involved.
Request a Tulsa Grandparents Foster Care Attorney Consultation
If you are considering becoming a kinship foster care giver for your grandchildren, you want to make sure to have all the support and help needed to make a smooth and easy transition for everyone involved. Let an Oklahoma grandparents foster care attorney help. Call (918) 994-3323 to set up a no-obligation consultation, or click here send an inquiry online.