DC Kincare Alliance: guardians are waiting longer for subsidies

Washington-DC

"The longer these grandparents, aunts and uncles have to wait to access this subsidy, that could be the difference between not having food on the table tomorrow."

WASHINGTON (WDVM) — DC Kincare Alliance is a nonprofit organization that helps so-called “kincaregivers” with legal representation, advocacy, and with contacting social services. Kincaregivers care for their minor family members. 

Board member Donnequa Grantham says many children across the U.S. are cared for by kincaregivers. “Unfortunately, they have the hardest time getting access to resources. Right now, they don’t have a lot of parental rights…so it’s pretty hard for them and we think we need to be out there raising awareness about what they do to raise their children,” said Grantham.

The Kincare Alliance lobbies the DC government to provide access to resources so caregivers can take care of their children. Earlier this year, before the coronavirus pandemic, the alliance helped expand the District’s guardianship subsidy to aunts and uncles. The subsidies were previously only available to grandparents. “We were trying to get our clients access to some of the subsidies,” Grantham said.

They were told there was a waiting list and submitted a FOIA request to find out why. “We realized that DC has suspended deadlines on responses to FOIA requests. That was inhibiting us getting timely access to this information. We realized that if our nonprofit was having this problem, there had to be other nonprofits that are having problems getting access.” 

The FOIA suspension also affects members of the media and those who are requesting information from the Metropolitan Police Department.

Grantham says the suspension is especially troubling because of the state of the country’s economy. “Many people have lost their jobs, many people are on the brink of getting evicted…having their basic needs met. The longer these grandparents, aunts and uncles have to wait to access this subsidy, that could be the difference between not having food on the table tomorrow. That could be the difference of being evicted.” 

DC Kincare Alliance has created a petition to end the suspension of those deadlines. Some agencies have responded to the alliance’s FOIA requests, but many have gone unanswered. “This is not a burden on the government because most government agencies use an electronic format anyway to store information so it doesn’t require putting employees in danger [of contracting the coronavirus],” said Grantham. However, she says the organization understands some FOIA requests will require contact and may not be accessible. “With it being a blanket expansion, without the government agency having to give an explanation or try to access that information, that’s what we want to end.” 

The alliance is presenting its petition to the DC’s City Council at its meeting Tuesday. Grantham says a new bill will have to be introduced to lift the suspension and expects some sort of movement on the issue on October 8. 

DC Kincare Alliance’s petition was made in partnership with Legal Aid, DC Advocates for Justice and Education, DC Open Government Coalition and DC’s public interest law firm Terris, Pravlik & Millian, LVP. 

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