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From crack baby to A-student

MARIAN WRIGHT EDELMAN | 5/11/2015, 11:10 a.m.
The odds were stacked against Britiny Lee before she was born. Her mother was addicted to drugs, like Britiny’s grandfather ...

She says of her beloved grandmother, “She’s looking down on me. I’m sure she’s proud, and right now I just want to make her even more proud. I want to show her that she didn’t fight for me for nothing.”

Britiny’s grandmother was one of the many caregivers raising children of relatives who are unable to do so. Sometimes a child is removed from parents’ care by the state and placed with relatives in foster care; in other cases, children are placed informally with relatives outside foster care. More than 6 million children are being raised in households headed by grandparents and other relatives. Of those 6 million, 2.5 million children are living in households without their parents present. These relative caregivers are willing to care for the children, but often need financial or other help to appropriately meet their children’s needs.

A number of states have used subsidized guardianship programs to support kinship families and GrandFamilies. Kinship care has been found to help children maintain family, and oftentimes community, connections. There is also strong evidence that children placed in kinship care experience greater stability, have fewer behavioral problems, and are just as safe if not safer than children in non-relative care.

In Britiny’s case, all of these positive outcomes came to pass, and after her grandmother stepped up to the plate, a child who could easily have become a statistic is beating the odds and is a star with a bright future.

Marian Wright Edelman is president of the Children’s Defense Fund. For more information go to http://www.childrens defense.org.