It's No Accident: Supporting Kinship Connections, Supporting Success

Meet Chris and Pat. They were excited to start their hard-earned retirement and move into a new home when they learned their daughter's addiction had landed her three young children—their grandchildren—in state custody. They didn't think twice about assuming guardianship while she entered treatment.

Meet Chantel. She was a newly minted college graduate with a budding future when she was contacted by a family-finding agency regarding her toddler-aged niece, Allison, who had already experienced multiple foster care placements. Having grown up in foster care herself, Chantel didn't hesitate to defer her professional goals to assume care of Allison.

Today, more children than ever are being raised by kinship caregivers—relatives and close family friends who step in when their parents can’t provide a stable home life. Kinship caregivers like Chris, Pat, and Chantel make sacrifices every day to help family members going through a tough time.

All of these children and many like them are now thriving thanks to the dedication of their relative caregivers and a network of services that have supported them along the way. Chris and Pat received significant support and encouragement from a local kinship agency, and Chantel fought hard to win supportive services for Allison through her local child welfare agency and service providers.

Kinship care takes tremendous work, determination, and support. Children, families, and communities are the winners when these arrangements work.

It's because of stories like these that the Children's Bureau chose "It's All Relative: Supporting Kinship Connections" for this year's theme for National Foster Care Month. It recognizes the incredible contributions kinship caregivers make and the importance of providing support to make sure they succeed. Chris, Pat, and Chantel's kinship experiences are just two of many real-life stories featured on the National Foster Care Month website that provide a first-person perspective from children, youth, families, and professionals involved with the child welfare system. This year's theme focuses on connecting relative and nonrelative caregivers and those who support them with financial, legal, medical, educational, and mental health resources. The real-life narratives and videos serve as training and technical assistance to child welfare professionals on kinship and foster care.

This year's website provides resources and tips:

  • For kinship caregivers, including how and where to find support (state kinship care contacts and kinship navigator programs) and resources for both formal and informal kinship care
  • For all caregivers — relative and nonrelative, including information on caring for children and youth who have experienced abuse or neglect, how to access support, how to support reunification, how to build relationships with a child's permanency team, and how to help youth transition to adulthood
  • For parents, including information on incarceration, courts, reunification, and planning for permanency, and parent support and advocacy groups 
  • For youth, including what they can expect in kinship or foster care, how to find support and stay involved in permanency planning, and toolkits and survival guides on the transition out of care
  • For communities, including how to build collaborative relationships, outreach, and social media tools for engaging community groups and organization members

Children and families benefit enormously when kinship care is a success. Visit the National Foster Care Month website today to learn how to connect the resource families in your community with the help they need to succeed.

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