Kinship Care Support

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) in partnership with other Fairfax County departments and agencies offers services and programs for grandparents and other family members raising children in the place of a parent.

Kinship care families are everywhere. Millions of grandparents and other caregivers throughout the United States have stepped forward to raise children for family members or friends. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, 4,182 grandparents in Fairfax County are responsible for raising their grandchildren. Grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, godparents, and close friends have taken on the role of substitute parents to many children. Family members and close friends have raised the children of others for generations, however, the challenges facing families have changed significantly over time.

Kinship care is typically considered to be either informal or formal:

Informal kinship care is when the family/kin decides that the child will live with relatives or friends. Most kinship care arrangements are informal. The caregiver may want to obtain legal custody of the child in order to have the maximum ability to make decisions about the health and welfare of the child.

Formal kinship care involves parenting of children by family/kin or friend as a result of a determination by the court or the child welfare agency. The courts rule that the child must be separated from his or her parents because of abuse, neglect, dependency, abandonment, or special medical circumstances. The child is then placed in the legal custody of the child welfare agency, and the kin provide the full time care, protection, and nurturing of the child. The alternative to formal or informal kinship care is usually placement with a foster care provider.

As kinship care providers, you probably thought your days of raising children were over, or you were surprised by the need to raise a relative's children--perhaps with your own. Raising children is expensive and exhausting. But, by raising these children, you're making a meaningful difference in their lives.

County and State Resources and Services

Fairfax County Government / Department of Family Services (DFS) Kinship Care 

Apply Online for Financial and Medical Assistance Benefits: CommonHelp is the Commonwealth of Virginia's fast and easy way to apply online for many Virginia social services assistance programs such as Medicaid, SNAP, TANF, Energy Assistance, and Child Care. On this site, you can find out what assistance you might be eligible for and submit one application, saving you time and effort.

Print Resources

Support Groups

Support groups for families raising children of relatives meet twice monthly at two sites in the county. There is no cost and childcare is provided. Registration is required.

Community Agencies

Additional Information

Nancy Coffey, Department of Family Services

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