Sharon J. Durken


Sharon J. Durken, Executive Director
Minnesota Kinship Caregivers Association Website: http://www.mkca.org/about.html
161 St. Anthony Ave., Suite 940
Saint Paul. MN 55103


Tel: (651) 917-4642

**sharon@mkca.org**

From the website:

About Us
Grassroots Effort Fueled by People Who Care

Minnesota Kinship Caregivers Association (MKCA), a not-for-profit organization, advocates for, supports, and provides information and resources to people raising their grandchildren or children of other kin and friends.
A true grassroots effort, MKCA began in 1994. Its origin was fueled by the daily experiences of kinship caregivers and the human service advocates working with them. Kinship caregivers and the children they raise are, in many ways, “square pegs in a system of round holes.” MKCA’s goal was, and is, to change the design of the game board in order to adequately respond to the everyday reality confronting and impeding these families.
Focusing exclusively on the issue of kinship care, MKCA is governed by a volunteer board of directors. Members include grandparents, social workers, attorneys, and others with first-hand experience with parenting children whose parents are unable or unwilling to fulfill their parental responsibilities.
This project is supported in part through a grant from the Administration on Aging, the Minnesota Board on Aging, the state unit on aging for Minnesota and the Minnesota Area Agencies on Aging. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not necessarily represent official Administration on Aging policy or the policy of other funders of this project.
Funding from the McKnight Foundation and Bush Foundation also supports this website.
Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Gaining Recognition as Social Phenomenon
The number of kinship families is growing by leaps and bounds. Nationwide, there are more than 5.5 million children living in 2.4 million households headed by grandparents, according to the 2000 U.S. Census, marking a 30 percent climb during the past 10 years.
At home in Minnesota, the trend is staggering. About 48,000 children live in homes headed by grandparents, an increase of more than 100 percent over the past decade. When counting the children parented by other relatives and by family friends, the number swells to an estimated 71,000 children.
These caregivers are real-life safety nets, keeping the children they love safe and their families together when birth parents are unable or unwilling to parent.
Informal and Formal Kinship Care
There are two types of kinship care. About 85 percent of the time grandparents and other relatives parent children, it results from arrangements made privately within the family. This is often referred to as “informal kinship care.” The remaining 15 percent of kinship families are “formal kinship care,” and results from formal child protection placement.
While children often live in informal kinship care for the same reasons children enter the formal care system, informal kinship caregivers do not receive the same financial assistance, support services, or training as foster parents. Most often, informal kinship families are unknown and invisible to the court and social services systems.