During September, Kinship Care Month, we are reflecting on how kinship care has become increasingly important in meeting the needs of children involved with the child welfare system.
Foster care serves as a crucial safety net for children who are unable to live with their biological parents due to various circumstances. When children are removed from their homes, they feel confused, scared, and overwhelmed. These feelings can be lessened if they are placed with safe extended family members who are familiar to them. This type of arrangement is known as “kinship care.”
More than 30% of children in foster care are living with family members according to Generations United. These may be formal or informal placements. Formal arrangements are managed by the Department of Social Services, just like traditional foster care placements.
Kinship caregivers can be grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, or even close family friends. The primary objective is to maintain family connections and provide a stable and familiar environment during a child’s time in foster care.
While living with a kinship caregiver, children often participate in visitation with their parents. This upholds that important relationship and offers opportunities for trust building. After all, the initial goal for a child is to reunite with their biological families, whenever it is safe. Kinship care plays a crucial role in achieving this goal, as it facilitates a smoother transition for the child while preserving family bonds.
Kinship care is a valuable tool in strengthening families and facilitating successful reunification efforts. CASA advocates play a part in supporting these relationships by helping children sort through their thoughts and feelings about foster care, identifying possible relatives for placement, AND connecting kinship families with resources.