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Michigan kinship care rule will "make a huge difference," advocates say

Michigan kinship care rule will "make a huge difference"
Michigan kinship care rule will "make a huge difference" 02:39

(CBS DETROIT) - A rule change will create licensing standards for kin caregivers in Michigan, benefiting family members, like grandparents, who step in to help raise loved ones. 

The change, which is a first for any state, would give these families the same level of assistance as foster care providers.

"We are raising my 10-year-old grandson, and that is due to parental rights were terminated," said Debra Palumbo. "We were put in that position where if we don't want to adopt him, he would be put into an adoption for anyone. Of course, any person would want their family with them."

Palumbo and her significant other, Richard Liscomb, say they took in Anthony and wouldn't have it any other way, but they are doing so on a fixed income and at an advanced age. 

"It's very overwhelming to have to raise a child again when you thought, 'Oh, retirement. I'm going on vacation," Palumbo said. "No, those plans are put on the back burner now."

Palumbo and Liscomb are just two of the thousands of relative providers caring for more than 4,000 children in our state. 

"It's so important that when children do have to be removed from their parents, that they are able to go somewhere that is familiar to them," said Elizabeth Hertel, the director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. "The experience can be incredibly traumatic."

This rule change allows for simpler licensing and approval standards for kin foster family homes, according to the federal Department of Health and Human Services, and additional financial assistance than before. 

"Access to the supportive relative assistance benefits that are very crucial often because their placements come to them with much less notice and preparation than foster families," said Beth Lindley, who serves as the director of the Kinship Care Resource Center at Michigan State University. "Being able to facilitate a more streamlined process for them to be approved and vetted so that they can receive the financial support that they're eligible for is going to be it's going to make a huge difference."

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