The following are two kinship families who have thrived while involved with the Kinship Care program. Thank you Ashley Gussler, Kinship Case Manager, for sharing their stories. These are families who demonstrate how our hard work truly benefits the families.
Rhonda Jones has been a part of the Kinship Program for a year. She is currently caring for her three-year-old twin grandchildren. The caregiver shared how her son passed away in 2011. After his death, she received a call informing her that she had twin grandchildren. The mother of the children said she wanted to get herself together, look for a job, and go to school so that she would better herself and care for the children. Rhonda agreed at the time to keep the children and take the mother in to help her get on her feet. The children’s mother stayed with Rhonda for a short while and then left, leaving the children to Rhonda to care for.
Rhonda has faced a few struggles while caring for the children. She did not have any financial help or medical help for the children and is having to pay for daycare out of her pocket. Since coming into the Kinship Care program, Rhonda has now received a tremendous amount of help. She is receiving financial assistance through ACCESS Florida that she did not know she qualified for. The children now have Medicaid coverage, and the family will have Temporary Custody of the children. It was not an easy task of getting custody of the children. The children’s mother was claiming benefits for the children out of state and once custody was finalized mother petitioned the court to get her children back. The judge did not grant custody back to mother since the mother arrived late to her court hearing and dishonesty.
Not only has Rhonda received financial and legal assistance, she shared that the Kinship program has helped her emotionally and mentally as well. She has a better understanding of the children’s behavior. She is able to look differently at some of the needs of the children and why they behave the way they do at times. The Kinship support group and department has been an invaluable resource for her, one she is grateful for.
Al and Nancy Brown are the great aunt and uncle to twins, Jahbarion and Jahdaron. The children were given to Nancy’s eighty-two year old mother to care for and it was too much for her to care for the twins at that age. When the twins were seven weeks old, Al and Nancy took the children to live with them because no other family member wanted the responsibility.
The children’s mother and father came back to get them a few months later and had them for three days. When Nancy went to their home to check on the boys, the father put the children in her car and told her to go and she has had the children since. Al and Nancy report that they have had to make financial adjustments since caring for the children especially with them being twins. Kinship has helped the family to know the different programs available to help the children.
Al and Nancy say that they have benefited from being a part of the Kinship program. Through the effort of Ashley Gussler and Tom Ranew, Al and Nancy have obtained Legal Custody of the children. Their goals and dreams for the children now that they have custody of them “the twins will receive education, medical care, and stability to be fine young men.”