Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption & Foster Care

What Do Kinship Caregivers Need to Succeed?

February 19, 2021 Creating a Family Season 15 Episode 8
Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption & Foster Care
What Do Kinship Caregivers Need to Succeed?
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Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption & Foster Care
What Do Kinship Caregivers Need to Succeed?
Feb 19, 2021 Season 15 Episode 8
Creating a Family

Grandparents raising grandkids or aunts and uncles raising nephews and nieces is often complicated and comes with a mix of challenges and blessings. What are the unique issues that kinship caregivers face and what do they need to succeed. We talk about these issues with LaNette Jacobs, an aunt raising her two nephews; Marla Galvan, a licensed clinical social worker and Foster Care Strategic Consultant for Child Welfare Information Gateway; Dr. Ali Caliendo, the Executive Director of Foster Kinship, a nonprofit support of kinship families in Nevada; and Jaia Lent, the Deputy Executive Director at Generations United where she provides direction for the National Center on Grandfamilies.

In this episode, we covered:

  • Kinship care, also often called grandparent care or grandparent-led families, is used to care for children whose parents are unable. And while we will often use the term grandparent, we fully recognize that it is often aunts, uncles, cousins, and sometimes other siblings that are stepping up to care for these children. Kinship care can be permanent or temporary, financially subsidized or not, formal or informal. Kinship care at its best helps to maintain family connections and cultural traditions that can minimize the trauma of family separation. 
  • Grandparents raising grandkids or aunts and uncles raising nephews and nieces is often complicated and comes with a mix of challenges and blessings.
  • There is often a blurred line between being a family member and assuming responsibility for a relative's children. Is your role the grandparent or the parent and if parent, to whom is your first allegiance—to your child or your grandchild.
  • It’s also a blessing. It’s a do over, a chance to be fully involved in a child’s life again and make a difference in the next generation.
  • Why is raising your grandkids different from raising your own kids the first time around?
  • Understanding emotions. 
    • Guilt, shame, anger, distrust, loss, loneliness, grief. And these feelings are often felt by both the parent and the kinship caregiver.
    • Managing boundaries.
  • Communication
  • Being honest about your needs and the kids needs
  • Putting the children’s needs first.
  • How to help with reunification?
  • Try to show empathy towards the challenges that the parents are struggling with. 
  • Don’t put down birth parents, especially in front of the kids.
  • Assure children that their parents love them.
  • Tell parents that you know that they love their child.
  • Don’t put the children in the middle.
  • Make visits a conflict free zone—if possible.
  • Have adult conversations on working out disagreements away from the kids.
  • Support change in the parents.
  • Support groups.
  • Not financially prepared for the addition of kids.
  • Parenting kids who’ve experienced trauma.
  • Legal resources to be in the best position to advocate for the child.

This podcast is produced  by www.CreatingaFamily.org. We are a national non-profit with the mission to strengthen and inspire adoptive, foster & kinship parents and the professionals who support them. Creating a Family brings you the following trauma-informed, expert-based content:
·         Weekly podcasts
·         Weekly articles/blog posts
·        Resource pages on all aspects of family building


 

Support the show (https://creatingafamily.org/donation/)

Show Notes Transcript

Grandparents raising grandkids or aunts and uncles raising nephews and nieces is often complicated and comes with a mix of challenges and blessings. What are the unique issues that kinship caregivers face and what do they need to succeed. We talk about these issues with LaNette Jacobs, an aunt raising her two nephews; Marla Galvan, a licensed clinical social worker and Foster Care Strategic Consultant for Child Welfare Information Gateway; Dr. Ali Caliendo, the Executive Director of Foster Kinship, a nonprofit support of kinship families in Nevada; and Jaia Lent, the Deputy Executive Director at Generations United where she provides direction for the National Center on Grandfamilies.

In this episode, we covered:

  • Kinship care, also often called grandparent care or grandparent-led families, is used to care for children whose parents are unable. And while we will often use the term grandparent, we fully recognize that it is often aunts, uncles, cousins, and sometimes other siblings that are stepping up to care for these children. Kinship care can be permanent or temporary, financially subsidized or not, formal or informal. Kinship care at its best helps to maintain family connections and cultural traditions that can minimize the trauma of family separation. 
  • Grandparents raising grandkids or aunts and uncles raising nephews and nieces is often complicated and comes with a mix of challenges and blessings.
  • There is often a blurred line between being a family member and assuming responsibility for a relative's children. Is your role the grandparent or the parent and if parent, to whom is your first allegiance—to your child or your grandchild.
  • It’s also a blessing. It’s a do over, a chance to be fully involved in a child’s life again and make a difference in the next generation.
  • Why is raising your grandkids different from raising your own kids the first time around?
  • Understanding emotions. 
    • Guilt, shame, anger, distrust, loss, loneliness, grief. And these feelings are often felt by both the parent and the kinship caregiver.
    • Managing boundaries.
  • Communication
  • Being honest about your needs and the kids needs
  • Putting the children’s needs first.
  • How to help with reunification?
  • Try to show empathy towards the challenges that the parents are struggling with. 
  • Don’t put down birth parents, especially in front of the kids.
  • Assure children that their parents love them.
  • Tell parents that you know that they love their child.
  • Don’t put the children in the middle.
  • Make visits a conflict free zone—if possible.
  • Have adult conversations on working out disagreements away from the kids.
  • Support change in the parents.
  • Support groups.
  • Not financially prepared for the addition of kids.
  • Parenting kids who’ve experienced trauma.
  • Legal resources to be in the best position to advocate for the child.

This podcast is produced  by www.CreatingaFamily.org. We are a national non-profit with the mission to strengthen and inspire adoptive, foster & kinship parents and the professionals who support them. Creating a Family brings you the following trauma-informed, expert-based content:
·         Weekly podcasts
·         Weekly articles/blog posts
·        Resource pages on all aspects of family building


 

Support the show (https://creatingafamily.org/donation/)

Please forgive the errors.  This is an automated transcription.
0:00  
Welcome, everyone to Creating a Family Talk about Adoption and Foster Care. I'm Dawn Davenport. I am your host as well as the director of creating a family. You can find all of our resources by going to our website creating a family.org. Today we're going to be talking about what two kinship caregivers need to succeed and we will be talking with Lynette Jacob She is an aunt raising her two nephews it has been doing so for the past nine years. We will also be speaking with Marla Galvin. She is a licensed clinical social worker with over 10 years of experience in child welfare, including direct services to children, youth and families. She currently serves as the foster care strategic consultant for Child Welfare Information Gateway, which is a service of the Children's Bureau and she oversees the development of foster care related content they're in. We will also be talking with Dr. Alan Caliendo. She is the executive director of foster kinship, a nonprofit organization devoted to the support of kinship families in the state of Nevada, are actually I said that wrong, I should say the state of Nevada. As a southerner, I can't help but always mispronounce that. So the state of Nevada as a former licensed Foster and now adoptive parent herself, Dr. Kelly Ando is a frequent contributor to state and national conversations of kinship care, foster care, and adoption. We will also be talking with Jaya Lynch. She is the Deputy Executive Director of generations united, where she provides direction for the National Center on grand families. She is a leading voice for families headed by grandparents or other relatives. So let's just jump in the kinship care which is often it goes by so many different names, but it's often sometimes called grandparent care or grandparent lead families is used to care for children whose parents are unable for whatever reason. And while we often use the term grandparent, we fully recognize that it is often aunts, uncles, cousins, and sometimes other siblings that are stepping up to care for these children. kinship care can be permanent or temporary, it can be financially subsidized or not. It can be formal or informal. And at its best, it helps to maintain family connections as well as cultural traditions that can minimize the trauma on a family separation on children. So let's jump in grandparents raising grandkids or aunts and uncles raising nephews and nieces is often complicated. And it comes with a mix of challenges as well as blessings. So Lynette, as someone who is living the experience, what are just, we're not going to go into a great deal. I just want an overview, what are some of the challenges that as a kinship provider that you face?

2:51  
Well, actually, it was very disruptive. We got our our nephew's came to us suddenly

3:01  
the police were called and they were removed from the home. And we showed up on the scene and brought them home. So it was and I was raising two of my own children were still at home. And so it was a huge disruption for everyone. My brother had died about six weeks prior. And his girlfriend had custody of the boys since he passed away. And she had very significant mental health and addiction issues. And it disrupted you know, within weeks of them being with her. And so I think just the extreme trauma, everybody was going through these little guys had lost a parent, mom was not well, and their lives were turned upside down. And then they're placed in our home and our lives are turned upside down. And so everybody's in mass chaos. And then and then going forward, we had so many court battles to go through establishing the glare and the termination of rights. And then mom did end up passing away just after that even before we adopted the voice. So there was a whole lot of trauma involved in this situation. Yeah, and suddenness, yes. And that's often often what we see these families going with and having to adjust quickly, also with little preparation, but we'll get into that later. But I think that when we we have to be careful, because we often do talk when we're talking about grandparent led families or kinship care. for good reasons. We talk about some of the challenges and we do that because we want to be able to best prepare and support these families. And it helps to recognize what the challenges are. But I don't want to overlook the fact that for many, many families, kinship caregivers, and kinship families, this can also be a blessing. Can you address some of that some of the some of the joys that that being a kinship provider also brings?

4:57  
Well, certainly, you know these

5:00  
little guys that we have suddenly inherited, you know, they're, they're unique and they're delightful. And they have a lot to give as any unique child does. And they bring love into the home, my daughter who was seven at the time, and got two brothers dumped on her lap. At first she thought her life was over. And but time went on, you know, she said, and you know, as you can imagine, there were many ups and downs, rough roads in the adjustment time. But in the end, she said, I'm really glad I have these two other brothers, you know, and so becoming a new unit is a beautiful thing.

5:42  
You know, I've hear sometimes from grandparents that they say, and this I hear it, perhaps more from grandparents, and then aunts or uncles, but it's a chance to have a do over and, and sometimes they enjoy the parenting more the second time around. So there are blessings that come from that as well. More like can you talk about just generally, how is raising a relative or a grandchild or a niece or nephew or whatever different from raising your own child? I think we go into it assuming that, you know, I've parented I've obviously been robbed. I know how to parent children. How is parenting a relative different other than what Lynette has already said about the suddenness that often these children in our lives?

6:26  
Yeah, I think in responding to your question, I almost just reflect back on what Lynne has just shared with us, you know, I have not personally been in the position to be a kinship care provider, I come with a caseworker lens. So I'll invite those who have had those experiences as a kinship care provider to add their thoughts this question as well. But I think Lynette just painted a beautiful picture for us, of showing how these types of placements can often occur in a crisis, and in to stop and recognize how different your emotions can feel this time around, versus having the opportunity to prepare for a family and bring children into your lives. So I'll stop there and invite others who have been kinship care providers to provide their personal experience. I feel like that's very personal question. I can speak only from having heard others, and ask this question to a lot of kin providers. And one of the distinctions is that as a general rule, you choose to have your own children, and that oftentimes, this would not be something that you would have chosen, had it not been something that would need that you have to step forward to immediately meet and that is a distinction. Even that you know, whether or not this is something that you're actively seeking, or whether or not you're fulfilling a need is, is a distinction.

8:00  
All right, let's talk some about some of the typical emotions that we might see for families who are fulfilling this need of raising one of their relatives, kids oftentimes coming into a crisis situation, Jaya, can you share a little from what you have seen and heard about some of the typical emotions these families may face?

8:28  
Sure, so appreciate this opportunity. So first, I reflect again on the suddenness. So, you may experience some surprise, and some anxiety around the initial you know, life change. Certainly, we see often a whole host of issues related to grief that grand families may be experiencing. And that grief can come in a lot of form. So in Lynette's case, we know that she was mourning the loss of her son. And at the same time, there may be other types of loss that come. So when you think about a grandparent who steps into care for a grandchild, they may be mourning the loss of what they expected from Grand Parenthood, right often grandparent hood, you picture the opportunities for the grandkids to come over and give them cookies and candy and then send them home all sugared up. And it's up to the parents to care for them. So that's no longer the experience that they're having. They may be experiencing a loss from their social circles because they're doing different kinds of things than their peer groups at this point. You know, their friends are golfing, going to the movies, they're going to all the children's games, then you know, children's meetings. So there can be some social isolation in that respect, as well. As certainly we often hear joy also there's many caregivers that said, you know, this child keeps me moving. They are my motivation in life that they've given me purpose in life. That you know, they had experienced

10:00  
Other difficult things, often those that lead to the child coming to them. But now this child is the inspiration as they're moving forward and have this.

10:10  
Yeah, exactly. La, can you talk some about some of the some of the negative emotions that we sometimes hear anger, guilt? Shame?

10:21  
Yes. Well, it really depends on what brought the child into kinship care. range of emotion might be something like anger that, you know, the, if it was your own son or daughter that they couldn't care of their child, it could be just deep grief, because they're, there's something that happened that prevented them from caring for their children. So we see just a range of emotion, especially near the beginning of just like, what is happening? And how am I going to get the support to do this. And I know we'll talk about supports later. But it's so important for caregivers to not feel alone in this at the beginning, because what we hear most frequently is I thought I was the only one doing this, or I feel so much I feel ashamed to ask for help. I should just know how I'm supposed to do this. And that's not at all the case. And so making sure that there's a safe space to vent on how you're really feeling is a really critical part of moving forward towards an acceptance of what's happened.

11:25  
Yeah, I agree. And I am thankful that God that I have mentioned, the loss of a support network, because that's something we often don't think about. But very often you don't have others in your life going through the same thing that you're going through. And in fact, they're going through, they have totally different life experiences. And you are at a step with that. And so often you're going through this feeling very alone. So it complicates your emotions, as well as

11:56  
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12:52  
All right. Another issue that we often talk about with kinship care providers, is managing boundaries, and an important discussion in general, just to have so Marla, let's start with you. What are some of the boundaries that need to be managed in kinship families?

13:13  
Sure, I would say your personal relationship with the birth parents, or the child's caregivers, may come into conflict with what their case plan says or what the court order outlines. And so there's a lot of boundaries that can be crossed there where you are as a kinship care provider may be trying to follow what the social workers asked of you, while the birth parent may have a different expectation or a desire because you're a family member. For me, that's probably the one that I saw the most in trying to figure out how do you set that structure? How do you make clear the rules? whose responsibility is it to set that? set that up? How do you communicate those expectations? Clearly, so those feelings of anger, frustration, betrayal don't come into your day to day? Mm hmm. And don't, don't over overshadow

14:11  
that. Yeah, I see that as as well. Alan, what are some other boundaries that that need managing in these types of relationships, in addition to the conflict between what is expected of you as a care provider that Marla mentioned by the courts or the caseworker and the expectations of your family members? Be they the parents or other extended family members who might be expecting you to take a different approach?

14:40  
Yeah, I think Marla hit on the biggest one. And I'll just reiterate, we have been collecting some data on reasons that kinship caregivers feel that they can't continue to provide care. And while we assumed that maybe the biggest reasons would be a lack of financial support, or a lack of understanding of what's available to them. The number one reason

15:00  
They felt like they couldn't do it was because of the relationships with the child's biological parents or caregivers that they just needed assistance navigating. And I'll just mention as well, that there's so many caregivers that are doing this without any oversight from the child welfare system at all. So there is no case plan, there might not even be a judge that's looking at it, there's no caseworker. So they're left to sort of balance the safety of the child and the child's needs, with what might be going on with the child's parents. And that is the the hardest boundary to walk. But other other things that are very difficult include becoming the parent to a child that you were the cool uncle or grandma to, and having to figure out how to now make sure that that child is getting everything they need from a parenting perspective. And then as Lynette mentioned, if there are biological children in the home or your own children, you're also managing those boundaries between this used to be, you know, your cousin, and now it's a sibling relationship. And those things are very challenging without some support. And the whole family system needs help creating those boundaries and understanding what's going on, including any children who are in the home and including the children in kinship care. And the last thing I'll just mention on this is there, there's a lot of family systems dynamics at play in kinship care. And so have an understanding of those pre relationships prior to kinship care and sort of what do you need to work through to sort of make sure that the child is your first priority, but also that this child Kingdom Hall, if that's possible, those things are, those things are really important to work on. So family systems is a big part of kinship care? I could add to that, I think a huge part is that kinship families often experienced dual loyalty issues, right. So they're both say it's their own adult child's child or a grandparent are concerned. And the first priority needs to be to the grandchild, but they also want their adult child to do better. And so they feel a commitment and a pull to both sides that perhaps a traditional unrelated foster parent would not feel. And so often, systems are not set up keeping the differences between those kind of kinship experience and the traditional foster parents in mind. And so as systems are serving families, they need to be thinking about those unique differences. For kinship families, we hear the whole issue of divided loyalties is such a huge one. And it's easy on paper, to say put the children's needs first. But that's a whole lot harder in practice, when it is your child, that is the one who you are having to put something that your grandchild needs above your child, it is much harder in practice than it is to say, because we often just will. The advice we give grandparents or aunts and uncles is simply put the put the child's needs first, easy to say hard to do, especially with the you've got past history. And that that comes up as well.

18:09  
Lynette, I am curious as to one of the issues that we hear from kinship providers is how much should they tell the kids now, in your case your brother had had died? But how much were you able to and then their mom died shortly thereafter? How much did you end up telling your nephews immediately? And as the years have gone by? How much have you shared about the history and what brought them into your house? Well, the older child, he was 11, when he came so he had lived with his parents and knew very well what the difficulties were, and especially his mom, who had, again had very significant mental illness and, and substance abuse problems. But so he he actually went before the judge and was able to say, I'm not safe being with my mom. So which is very courageous for a little guy who's 11 years old, but he did not feel safe. So for him, he had a clearer view of what was going on than I did. I mean, he lived in the situation. And so and then as a younger child had just turned four And so through the years, you know, I we just have been open talking about, you know, the struggles of mental illness and addiction and that his parents did

19:36  
struggle. And that and of course, he understands that they've both passed away and you know, so there's a finality with us. I think it's very different when the parents are still around. And that dynamic is still going on.

19:53  
Yeah, I think you're probably I think you're correct. All right. But that leads us into a discussion

20:00  
of what the kinship providers can do to help with reunification to help the child return home to their birth family. Now, that is not always possible, nor is it always the goal even initially. But generally speaking, it is something that we hope that it's going to be able to happen if it is possible for the birth family to be able to heal, we want the children to be able to go home. So what is it that kinship providers can do to help with that process? Jaya, let's start with you on that one.

20:36  
Sure. So I think, you know, you talked about boundaries earlier. So part of setting boundaries is establishing not only where things need to, to stop to draw the line, but also points of connection. And so building a plan in the beginning, saying, you know, making it clear, the goal here is for the child to return to the care of the birth parents, and what do both sides really see in terms of what's needed to get there, um, to develop a clear plan for for visits and what those visits look like what activities need to take place, when that's happening. You know, what are the gaps in the relationship? What are the therapeutic supports? So making a plan that's not just about what can't happen, but especially about what can and needs to happen to really nurture the relationship with that birth parent?

21:27  
Mm hmm.

21:28  
Excellent. Marla, anything additional that you can add about what families, kinship families who are taking care of children can do to help with reunification?

21:42  
Or Yeah, I think just to build on on what has just shared just focusing on that open communication. I think kinship caregivers have the unique opportunity to model positive parenting practices, healthy and constructive communication. And I think there's all sorts of opportunities to maybe avoid criticizing the parent when the challenge present and and working on that kind of self frustration management, I think those are all strategies that can be used to really support the parents and really affirm all of their efforts to overcome over overcome everything that's happened. Yeah, don't put not putting down not talking negatively about birth parents in front of children. Also, as hard as it is try to show some empathy towards the challenges the parents may be struggling with. And allow that empathy to show to shine through when you're working with with kids as well, would also be helpful. Ally, oftentimes, kinship providers can be have their own anger and their own issues with the birth parents. And and understandably, that comes into play. So what are some things that that they that kinship providers need to be reminded of are can do to not put the kids in the middle? Because it's tempting.

23:00  
So here's what I'll give, first, the child welfare system, just a lot of credit to helping children go back home. With the processes that are in place, there's often a plan for kids to be returned. And those boundaries that I was mentioning, are very clear of what needs to happen. And caregivers can be brought alongside the parents in order to support that, regardless of how they might be personally feeling. There's a very sort of process in place. But just again, mentioning that so many caregivers are doing this outside of the child welfare system without that guide, when there's a lot of anger. And that anger doesn't have a place to be sort of worked through, it can be a barrier to reunification. And unfortunately, we see that children who are in private or informal kinship care have a less likely chance of being reunified with their birth parents. So one thing that really helps is giving that space for caregivers to work together with with other caregivers and just express their feelings. Because when you can say how angry you are. And then you may hear from a caregiver who's lost their son or daughter or like Lynette lost their brother, and realize that there's a finality to this in some people's lives, that peer support opens up the ability to have more empathy to hear how others have dealt with it. And so making sure that there's a peer network to deal with some of these very difficult emotions has been the thing that I have seen open up most families to the idea of how do we get a better relationship with the birth parents where I wasn't really feeling it on my own. But having this experience allows me to want to do more. Mm hm. And sometimes just believing that people can change and allowing space for someone to change really helps. We it's so tempting as humans to lock other people into their past, their past mistakes, their past life, their past relationship with us.

25:00  
their past relationships with their child, and not allow for the possibility of change. And so just knowing that people can change and trying to recognize and support change is, is another very helpful thing.

25:14  
You know, Lynette, at the beginning, you talked about how sudden and how disruptive, all of a sudden your whole life, your family changed dramatically, you are parenting two kids, then you were, all of a sudden had two additional children. So basically, you doubled your family size.

25:29  
And all the everything that comes with change is when change can be stressful. What are some things that you did or you wish you had done in case you didn't do it? That would have self care, things that you could have done for yourself that would have made this transition smoother or easier, or you did do and made it and it didn't, it was effectively a smoother transition because of what your actions? You know, I feel like we were very fortunate in that we did have a lot of support from dcfs. And they had given me a little flyer on our local grant, Emily's, which is kinship navigator and other places as well. And we called right away and they just really swooped in and came around us they offered counseling for all of the kids, my my biological kids who were adjusting, and my adoptive, my place nephews, and especially where we're having all this court stuff going on. And they had to go talk with judges and lawyers and all these things and, and they're still processing the death of their father. And I mean, we we were very high need at this point. But they really just came around us so calmly, and said, everything I said, this is happening there like we can help you with that we can help you with that. It was just the hugest thing that we needed right at the time. And then as we got maybe six, down six months down the road, we got connected with a counseling service that would come into our home, which was just huge to have them come in and work with our whole family. And they also supported, supplied us with respite care, my husband and I. And honestly, that was the hugest lifesaver for us, because we were just hanging on by our fingernails really, at that point. Yeah. And to be able for us to be able to go on a date once a week was life saving. So those are the things that definitely went well, for us. I think the hardest thing or the stuff that's already mentioned is that, you know, we had even though we were still raising children, we had adult children also this is a late in life, baby, all our friends are out of kids. I mean, and here we are starting over with a four year old. And you know, it was lonely. It was hard, you know, and it our social group. I mean, they are wonderful friends, they hung with us, but they're not in this place of life with us. So it was very hard.

28:10  
You know, it strikes me that you were so fortunate to have, especially something like respite care early in your experience. How? How do other families access something like respite care, especially those families, which as you have already mentioned, is the majority of families who are kinship providers are not connected, their informal arrangement, so they're not connected with the child welfare system? How did those families get help? Let's talk about counseling help and talk about respite care two things that mentioned that were so helpful.

28:46  
But the reality and I know, Jaya can speak to this as well, is that it really depends on where the caregiver is living in our country and what services might be available either through the child welfare system or through a program, kinship navigator program or grand family program, it's really hard to get access to these services. So just as an example, if a child is not brought into the foster care system, they often get a different type of health insurance than children who are in foster care, which means that some Mental Health and Counseling Services are not open to those families. In addition, something like respite care has been sort of tied to either disability or the child being in foster care. So one of the things that we noticed at foster kinship is we've been doing navigation for about 10 years is the biggest request came for respite care in addition to like housing support, and we finally were able to write a grant and bring respite care in for all families in our area, not just those involved with the child welfare system, but I do know that this is sort of a cry of many caregivers, like if I could just get a few hours to go on a date, take a nap, go to the doctor, you know, just read

30:00  
By myself, I can keep doing this. And so we're strongly encouraging other navigator programs to consider adding respite care to the services that they provide to all kinship families. It's really important. So again, though, it depends on where you're living. So and I know Jaya would know more about the lambs. Yeah, she I hope so Jaya does talk about the landscape. Because what Allah has just said is so true, it is so independent, depends on where you live as to what services your state is providing. And quite frankly, it depends on whether or not your the children in your care have entered the child welfare system, which, quite frankly, is oftentimes why people are stepping up his teeth to keep the kids out of the child welfare system, which is kind of a double edged sword there. So Jaya, what is the landscape as far as nationwide? what's available to these families, both formal as well as informal? Absolutely. So the reality is that it varies considerably by state. Of course, every state has a child welfare system, a foster care system, how those systems reach out to relatives engage and support relatives really vary significantly. And a huge issue is if if a relative comes to the attention of a child comes to the attention of the child welfare system. And a relative is identified, whether that child welfare system is really clear about the difference between the child coming into foster care them becoming licensed them getting the full structure and support and financial support of inside the system. Or if they really divert those children routinely to be cared for by relatives outside the system. We don't think there's any one right answer about whether the child should come into the system or outside the system. But the families need to be fully informed of the differences because it's going to depend on the family. There are advantages and disadvantages to each, I always spoke to the importance of the structure. And you certainly the financial support and other supports of coming into the system. But there's many families that prefer not to even with those, those those pieces, giving up those pieces. So we just got to give good information to families. But this the supports and services then outside the system really vary significantly. You see, in some states that aging services really step up for those older caregivers. So those outside the system might be able to go to their area agency on aging and get a host of respite care support groups, you know, a number of services there. In other states, you may see the faith based or community based program system that has some really rich services you see in some places, land grant universities, extension programs. So it really just varies, and that's one of the challenges is that we can't tell a kinship provider, once you step into this role, oh, here's the one place you go, no matter what state you're in, it varies so much. And that's why we see this need for kinship navigator programs. And there is federal funding that has just started to really

33:03  
become more and more available for kinship navigator programs. So ultimately, I do believe that there will be kinship navigators in every state, but right now they're just starting to build. So their availability and their quality varies a lot right now.

33:18  
I'm curious, you said there's funding rolling out under the family first act, there was very little funding provided for the establishment of kinship navigator programs, is that changing. So Congress just passed in their most recent, consolidated Appropriations Act that also had some COVID relief, there are a couple of things in there for kinship navigators, there's two different sources of funding, there is a chunk of appropriations that goes to states to help create, enhance and evaluate kinship navigator programs. And then there's also some legislation that was included that waive some complicated standards that were required to draw down federal money for navigators and to provide direct concrete supports. So some of that is waived during the pandemic, just to make sure that programs get some supports right away, and can really meet the direct needs that families are experiencing, which have really escalated and become more complex during COVID-19.

34:20  
Yeah, one of the things that we have heard in a couple of states is that they can't establish this is what they're saying that they can't establish a kinship navigator program because there aren't enough evidence based programs or there is no evidence based program for what works for kinship navigator so they're just not going to do anything or fairness. What they're saying is, is more that they're just going to wait until till something appears that that is evidence base. What are you hearing Jay, I'm going to direct this to you again, since as an advocate in this area, you might know more, although ally Feel free to join us if you also are knowledgeable about that. So Jaya, what are you

35:00  
Hearing as far as the allowing navigator programs to move forward even if there isn't evidence based practices that say this particular navigator program is more effective than others.

35:13  
So the evidence base requirement and family first is in order for programs to access ongoing reimbursement for their programs into the future, through Family First, that family first act, they need to meet certain evidence based standards and get sort of approval by this Clearinghouse. However, recognizing that states may take some time to get there, we have advocated successfully for some annual appropriations, so money that goes to states to help them create programs, or enhanced programs if they already have them, or get those programs evaluated. So almost all states now have some money to do something to at least start getting on that path. So I would say I would really encourage states to be using that money appropriately, to be creating this program with an eye towards meeting the evidence base standard, they now have had three years of funding, they just secured another one. So there is some funding to get states on that path. And especially with this new piece, the pandemic relief piece, there is a period of time where there's evidence based standards are waived. So this gives another window of an opportunity for programs to be drawn down money for the federal government, evidence based requirements are waived, go for it, go serve these families get that evaluator on online so that you can ultimately get to that evidence base, don't wait, start evaluating your program and get it moving now and seek funding to help pay for it because receiving evidence based is not inexpensive. Anything you want to add, Alia before we move on

36:50  
just that there are several states Nevada included that have been working with kinship families, both in and out of the system for quite some time and have been working actively in partnership with their states, and evaluators in order to make sure that programs can rise to that evidence based standards. So it is an exciting time for kinship navigators. And I think one of the things that we can do in the kinship community is encouraged navigators to really meet the needs of families outside the child welfare system, including, like Jaya said, making sure they have all of the information that they need to make a decision on if formal or informal is right for them and their family. And then kind of pushing navigators to think creatively about things like respite care, or potentially partnerships with other agencies in the state that would increase support for families. And also, how do navigator programs contribute to potentially helping families get to that reunification, if there is no child welfare system involved, so there's a lot of opportunity for navigators to be at the cutting edge of appropriate working with families, because so many of these families are going to be outside the child welfare system, every state should be as diocese, working towards those big goals.

38:08  
Yeah, amen.

38:10  
And so assuming that they're either if assuming that there is a kinship navigator program in your state, I am assuming that if you are a professional or a kinship provider, you can go to that resource. And that's one of the things that most kinship provider kinship navigator programs will have would be information on helping you make the decision on whether or not your child, the child coming into your home, what method would be best Do you should you enter them into into the child welfare system? Allow them into the child welfare system? assuming they're not there? Or should you not? Should you make it keep it informal? Or should you not?

38:48  
As far as you know, Allie, are most kinship navigator programs, when they do we exist in states providing that type of information? I know that your organization that we mentioned it now, kinship care has I mean, foster kinship, you have a training institute, and you have resources for professionals, and we will link to that in the show notes. So I know that your organization does, but as far as you know, is this type of information available for either the professionals who are working with these families or the families themselves? in other states? I think, again, it depends on the program and where the navigator program is housed. And how much the experts at that navigator program or in the child welfare partnership, understand about the differences available to private families or diverted families, families in foster care, can they be licensed? Do they have to be licensed? So I think that is the number one role of a navigator program is to fully understand the landscape so that they can just explain options and clear and plain language to families and then let the families make the best decision for their situation. I'm not sure

40:00  
What other states have done as far as making sure that they understand all of the diversity and kinship care? I found it's one of the areas that that's most misunderstood. So perhaps, you know, Jaya, or Marla or Lynette have more information on their areas. But I think it's an area that we could all be doing more to help families. And no matter where we are in the country, I would really affirm that addict, again, depends on the state. So some some information is really detailed, some isn't. There are some things that are true nationally, like generally, you're going to get more financial support if you're in the system and outside of the system. So there is some national information that can be helpful for those states that don't have a lot of information yet well, and for family, the thing that was so hugely helpful is we they did go into the system, but we did not get licensed as foster care parents. So that can happen because we, we looked at them and we're like, you think we can do 32 hours with a training in the next four weeks while we're adjusting with these kids? There's just no way we could. And my husband and I had already been in foster care license. So we had gone through the training for another child that we had adopted. And so it wasn't like we were brand new to this either. So anyway, but my point is, is the help we needed was really legal help. And that was the thing that was huge to us is that they were doing the legal battles for us. We could have never taken that on ourselves in our situation, so that that was the big piece that needed that needed to happen for us.

41:42  
Yeah, excellent. It often is. Even you are fighting for termination of parental rights. But even outside of parental rights, there's decisions, legal decisions, what do what documentation, do we need to allow us to make decisions? Should we go for guardianship? It's called different things in our custody, different things called different things in different states. But like it or not, this often is a legal process as well. So your points, well taken my net. Thank you.

42:38  
I want to take a moment to remind you that this show is brought to you by the generous support of our partners. And these are agencies that believe in our mission of providing unbiased education and support both pre and post adoption, fostering and kinship care. And they believe in it not only just in Word, but also they're willing to put their money behind it and that allows us to provide this show for you. Once it's partnered out results got to doubt that they are okay we credit a partner national adoption agency placing children later on Sally's immediate So Gary is Croatia. So Georgia. Let's pause here frontcourt Pakistan, Serbia do believe cranes, and they specialize in facing children. So in other special news, they also have a strong kinship capitalisation program would be running support groups for kinship providers. Now, let me pause and mention that of course, if you're in the foster care system, then there may be support groups for foster parents. But those are not sometimes the needs of kinship. parents might be different from foster. So where can kinship parents go to find support groups? Yeah, absolutely. It's a great question. And I think kind of in line with the conversation we've been having up to this point, those verses can vary state by state. I think one great place to start on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website. We have a state kinship care contacts list. So if you're wondering what supports and services are maybe provided in your specific state, you can go to child welfare. gov, and type in state kinship care contacts into the search bar, and it should pull up a list of all 50 states, at least a place to start so that you can excellent. those specifics like since they do vary state to say at least you contact a person a call to start the conversation. We will link to that in the show notes as well. It's a great resource in addition to the state by state listing. They also have specific resources for both the kinship caregivers themselves as well as child welfare professionals working with kinship families. So we will link to that. Also at Grand fat grand fact sheets that org If folks go there, their state by state fact sheets, they have data on the families but they also

45:00  
Have a list of different programs that serve kinship and grand families across the state. And so they will list the types of services. So if they offer support groups, those fact sheets will indicate that

45:12  
they are a great resource, one that we reference frequently. And we will also include the link to that in the show notes as well. Because I think that is so. So very important. It will also be as a handout, so thank you. All right. So support groups exist. And also let me just remind folks that something that Jaya had mentioned at the beginning, you can also sometimes find support groups through your Council on Aging. So go to some of those organizations as well. Alright, what about financial support for the financial aspect? You're having children, you're doubling your family size are you're on social security and do not have savings that are going to pay for orthodontia and counseling and baseball and summer camp and childcare? for heaven sakes. I've heard I've not mentioned that number one. So let's, let's go. Let's, let's see, I'll start with you, Allie. What are some of the resources? Where can people find resources to help them financially cope?

46:19  
So here's where as a kinship caregiver, it's very helpful to know how the systems in your jurisdiction are going to define you. Traditionally, or, for the most part, there a couple forms of potential support. There's the child only TANF grant, usually through the division of welfare is a non needy grant for people who are raising relatives children. There's also Foster Care Reimbursement, if it's possible to receive that as a licensed kinship foster parent, which as we've discussed, it's frequently not possible or not the choice. And so again, with financial support, the most important thing is to fully understand how a caregiver can access it, what the requirements are, to lay out all of the differences, and then again, let the caregiver make the best choice for their family. There are other options to pursue, there's Social Security, there is for the child, there's usually Medicaid for the child, there might be food stamps, or WIC or other social programs, and there may be childcare subsidy in your area as well. Again, it just depends. And so this is where navigators play a role, and fully understanding these different requirements based on the kinship family type. But in general, you're going to find child only TANF or potentially Foster Care Licensing as your main sources of financial support.

47:41  
Okay, excellent. An area that here at creating a family, we care a lot about the heart of our mission. And that is another resource that we find that families, kinship families often need his help and understanding how to parent children who have experienced trauma, including prenatal exposure, which is just another form of trauma. And that, where can parents go? Obviously, they can come to creating a family.org we have tons of resources that are directly relevant, since that's the heart of our mission, helping people parent children who've experienced trauma, Marshall, where else can parents go to get information on how to parent these children because often they don't behave in the same ways that children who have not experienced trauma?

48:28  
Sure, so I think there's probably a number of pathways for parents to search for information on this particular topic. I think the Child Welfare Information Gateway website is a great place to start. It's it's very vast and has all sorts of publications and resources. If you want to start reading about kind of the concepts on parenting a child experiencing trauma. I think if you are connected to a kinship, get navigator program or your child welfare agency. Hopefully there is a list of competent therapists in your area or providers who are well versed in trauma that can be a big support to you. That is kind of my first thought and a couple places to start, although I'm sure there are many more paths to explore to get that support. Lynette what was effective for you, you clearly that your nephew's came to you from a trauma background? What did you find helpful for helping you learn how to best apparently steer children

49:36  
you know, right away, we got plugged into a parent support group through our local grand families. And I think just having that kind of camaraderie with other people dealing with the same kind of things was very helpful. And then also, through their they sponsor, you know, they have sponsored us to go to tbri conferences.

50:00  
trainings and our local dcfs usually doesn't an adoptive parent symposium every year, and they usually always have great speakers on trauma and Fetal Alcohol effects and drug exposure and all those things that deal with the wiring of these kiddos brains. And so I think, you know, we did a lot of self educating, reading a lot of good books, and then taking advantage of these other resources in the community, which was very helpful.

50:34  
And they creating a family has a large online support group that we have a lot of kinship families as a part of, you can find it to close a Facebook group, creating a family on Facebook, and I should mention that tbri is trust based relationship intervention.

50:52  
Often, the connected child being the original book, and we have also a lot of resources, including interviews with Dr. Purvis as well as many others associated with tbri. Alright, and Jaya I just curious, do you anticipate that with the passage of family first that we're going to be seeing a large increase in the number or an increase, I should say, and the number of kinship families that will that we see as we move forward? You mean, will there be an increase in terms of the children that are in foster care, the number of kinship families that will be stepping up to care for them? Yes, yes, thank you for the distinction, because there is a distinction between the large numbers who never are associated with foster care, which is actually the majority, go ahead. Certainly the goal is for when children cannot remain with their birth parents, for them to go to the care of somebody who is familiar to them, or has a family connection. So that is certainly the hope. I think what Fostering Connections act offers is an opportunity for a range of supportive services. So it does a couple of things to help address barriers to licensing relatives, it also does some things to provide. Ultimately, the goal is to provide more access to services that prevent children from entering foster care when it's not necessarily necessary or appropriate. And then the kinship navigators really are there for any type of kinship family. So no matter where you are across the continuum that you have access to support. So I think there's been a lot of things in place already in the child welfare system that really talks about the need to prioritize relatives for children. And so we've seen some movement in that direction already. Family first school, in addition to that is really to provide a continuum of supports for those families no matter where they are in the child welfare system. And Family First, also places emphasis on family over group care. That's a big piece of it, recognizing that families are best for children versus residential or group care settings whenever possible.

53:06  
Thank you so much, Lynette Jacobs, Marla Galvin, Dr. Ali Caliendo and Jilin for being with us today to talk about this really important topic that remind everybody, as we always do, that the views expressed in the show are those of the guests and do not necessarily reflect the position of creating a family, our partners, our underwriters. Also, keep in mind that the information given in this interview is general advice. To understand how it applies to your specific situation. You need to work with your adoption, foster care and kinship care professional. Thanks for joining us today. And I will see you next week.

53:46  
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