LITTLE ROCK Ark. (KTHV) - The new subsidized guardianship program offered by the Arkansas Division of Children and Family Services allows family members such as grandparents to care for a child when returning to their parents or adoption aren't possible.
The subsidized guardianship program allows a child to leave the foster care system and stay with a relative in a permanent setting. Whether it be a grandparent or an aunt, they will now become the legal guardians and continue to receive funding like other foster parents. Before, these legal guardians didn't receive help.
Jacqueline Finley worries about the unexpected. She is raising four grandchildren by herself all under the age of 14. Any financial glitch and she's in trouble.
"If my car breaks down, it's going to have to be the mortgage and where am I going to get the money to fix it?" says Jacqueline Finley.
Finley didn't want her grandkids to go through foster care; she wanted to be their legal guardian.
"They need to be surrounded by family so they know they are still loved," says Finley.
A federal law and state program agrees. The Federal Fostering Connections Act of 2008 allows federal money between $400 to $500 per child each month to support relatives caring for children. Department of Human Services Communications Director Amy Webb says it's neither foster care nor adoption.
"The parents rights have not been terminated and in some cases the children don't want that," says Amy Webb.
Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families worked with lawmakers to get this bill passed. Tara Manthey says this new form of child welfare is worth the funding.
"Any investment we can make in the life of a child will always pay off. These are children who it is not their fault their homes are disrupted," says Tara Manthey.
Finley hopes she qualifies, not to benefit her, but her grandchildren.
"Those are my grand kids, they need to be together; they've been through a lot," says Finley.