When family circumstances change an adults status from being a childs relative to being that childs parent, the new relationship generates a variety of legal questions. Many of those questions will be explored by Mary Bissell, an attorney with the Childrens Defense Fund (CDF), when she speaks on”Legal Issues and Kin Care”during a dinner program co-sponsored by the WVU Extension Service Friday, May 17, at 5:30 p.m. at WVU Jacksons Mill Center for Lifelong Learning near Weston.

An estimated 28,000 children in West Virginia live with relatives other than their parents. Common questions such caregivers ask include:”What does legal custody mean?”“Do I need an attorney?”“Can I get help from Legal Aid?”“Can I get Medicaid or childrens health insurance?”“Can I get Food Stamps?”“Can I enroll my child in my local school?”

Bissell, a senior staff attorney for CDF s Child Welfare and Mental Health Division in Washington, D.C., will discuss these and other concerns as she draws on her experience with kinship care legal issues and kinship care advocacy programs.

Prior to her work at CDF , Bissell was a John Heinz Senate Fellow and legislative assistant in the office of Senator John D. Rockefeller (D-W.Va.). Her assignments included working on child and family issues, including the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA), juvenile justice, child support and other child-related legislative efforts.

Bissell is the co-founder and former executive director of The DC Kinship Care Coalition Inc., a volunteer nonprofit advocacy organization for grandparents and other relative caregivers raising children in Washington, D.C.

The dinner program is part of the May 17-18 training being conducted for new support group facilitators who will work with their respective countiesWest Virginia Relatives as Parents Program (RAPP). However, the evening program is open to parents, grandparents, caregivers, volunteers and community and human resource professionals, such as public school teachers and social workers.

RAPP is sponsored by the WVU Extension Service, West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services and Mission West Virginia Inc.

The dinner costs $13 per person. Reservations are due by May 10. To register, contact Suzanne Gribble, WVU Extension Service, 304-293-7599 or sugribble@mail.wvu.edu .