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Kids, grandparents together in first-of-its-kind housing program

As this blog has previously noted, and as family law commentators across the country -- including in Florida -- readily acknowledge, child custody matters can be among the thorniest and most complex in any divorce matter.

That can also be true even in the absence of divorce, when issues affecting one or both parents simply render it impossible for them to provide adequately for their children.

Adequate care for children has customarily been defined in Florida and every other state as the tending to a child's needs that best promotes his or her best interests.

That assessment is sometimes difficult to accurately gauge and act upon. It can be particularly problematic when a family splinters owing to factors such as chronic unemployment, mental illness, out-of-control drug use and other factors that undermine the care a child needs and deserves.

In such cases, grandparents often come to the fore, either being granted custody or simply caring for the kids short-term. Authorities across the country acknowledge that kids' interests are often far better served through continued involvement with caring grandparents than by placement into foster care.

The question often centers on the grandparents' ability, especially financially, to take in children that they love and want to care for.

That matter has been specifically addressed and responded to in a novel way in Tennessee, where a facility recently became the first ever in the United States to receive and implement a federal grant that allows for lower-income families headed by grandparents to raise their grandchildren.

The facility, called Fiddler's Annex, was built specifically for grandparents and has been operating successfully for about 18 months.

"I feel like a lot of eyes are on us," says its director.

"And we will succeed," he says, noting society's appreciation's for the fact that such a program is cost-effective over the long term and helps keep families intact, which in itself is the chief factor promoting children's best interests.

Source:, "TN facility first in nation for grandparents raising grandkids," Adam Ghassemi, July 1, 2013

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