PLEASE CALL! If you are a grandparent or other care giver of children and need support, please call 1-877-341-3101 to let the Department of Family & Human Services know you want to be part of their Grandparents and Care Providers Program. Hopefully this will allow you to receive support starting April 2018.
PEI seniors advocate and District 18 Rustico-Emerald resident Jan King wrote the following excellent article discussing the recent announcement for supports for grandparents and others who are care providers for children that are not theirs, but are usually grandchildren or closely related. This is an issue for many in Rustico-Emerald.
Guest Article by Jan King – Advocate for PEI Seniors
On November 10 2017 the Hon. Tina Mundy, Minister of Family and Human Services announced that grandparents, family members and friends caring for children will get financial help and supports from the Provincial government under a new Grandparents and Care Providers Program. This was welcome news to many grandparents who have previously shared their stories of financial hardship and difficulties in obtaining the services needed for their young charges.
For ALL the grandparent carers currently excluded from phase 1 of this program it is imperative that they register by calling 1-877-341-3101
In an effort to clarify the financial assistance and support to be offered I contacted the Department of Child and Family Services. I learned that initially the program will only apply to situations where a child has been previously identified under the Open Child Protection Program as being in need of out-of-home care for safety reasons. These registered grandparents and other carers will be the initial recipients of financial subsidies. The program will then be further developed and extended in 2018 to be all inclusive and all non-included grandparents who currently care for their grandchildren are encouraged to call 1-877-341-3101 at which point the Department of Child and Family services will be contacting them to assess their individual needs. Guided by these assessments the second phase of the program will be developed. If grandparents have already contacted the department regarding their specific situation and have not as yet received a call-back I am assured that someone will be contacting them soon.
Phase 1 of the November initiative gives carers (not just Grandparents) a monthly allowance of $700 per month for each child if that child had previously been identified as being in need of care and protection for safety reasons under the Child Protection Act. It is anticipated that this allowance will be spent primarily on clothes, food and transportation. Also included in phase 1 is assistance for obtaining and paying for day-care without undergoing a means test. It should be noted that children who are under the care of the Director of Child Protection already have access to the Provincial Children’s Oral Health program and the Provincial Drug Program but neither program includes orthodontics.
It is to be hoped that the second phase of this initiative will be extended to those grandparents and family members who have secured legal guardianship or supervised custody; it is also assumed that it will include all the allowances and benefits now offered in phase 1. I understand that this second phase program is due to be completed and ready for launching on 1st April 2018 but if it is to be developed in a manner that benefits all grandparent carers, the Department of Child and Family Services needs to understand the range of specific needs and requirements for each case in order to offer inclusive assistance.
Previous conversations with grandparents parenting for the second time in their lives have highlighted many issues which should be considered by Government when finalising this initiative. Of particular concern to many seniors who find themselves in this situation is their lack of adequate housing. Many seniors faced with having to provide extra room for their grandchildren encounter long waiting lists for low-cost housing units or are unable to find extra funds for an increased rent or to build extensions to their existing home. The final government plan should include as a matter of necessity a “Front Door Entry” for carers; a dedicated telephone number and resource contact person where carers would be guided to the correct government agencies and departments in order to get the immediate assistance required.
The Minister stated in her November release that her department would continue to work on legal, educational and medical assistance for inclusion in the new program. It is to be hoped that this also includes financial and process assistance for grandparents seeking to obtain legal custody of their grandchildren. For ALL the grandparent carers currently excluded from phase 1 of this program it is imperative that they register by calling 1-877-341-3101. I hope to be able to provide readers with some good news soon that phase 1 of this program is up and running and that progress for the expanded, inclusive program is indeed still tracking for an April 2018 start!
– Jan King