Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption & Foster Care

Setting Up Effective Kinship Navigator Programs

January 26, 2022 Creating a Family Season 16 Episode 4
Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption & Foster Care
Setting Up Effective Kinship Navigator Programs
Show Notes Transcript

Do you serve kinship families and are wondering how to best to meet their needs? We talk about kinship navigator programs with Stephanie Perkowski is a Social Worker and Policy Analyst at Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago; Julia Donovan, the Program Director of Ohio’s statewide Kinship and Adoption Navigator program, OhioKAN; and Tia-Maria Smith, the Program Director for Pennsylvania KinConnector which helps informal and formal kinship families find the information, resources, and emotional support they need.

In this episode, we cover:

  • What are navigator programs?
  • Who usually sets up either kinship or adoption navigator programs?
  • How are kinship navigator programs funded?
  • How to get these programs evidenced-based and why is that important?
  • How do kinship or adoptive families find out about them?
  • What type of advertising is effective?
  • What works in making the site user-friendly?
  • What type of resources should be included in navigator programs?
  • How to evaluate the effectiveness of navigator programs?


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Please pardon the errors, this is an automatic transcription
Welcome, everyone to Creating a Family talk about adoption in foster care. I'm Dawn Davenport. I am both the host of this show as well as the director of creating a Today we're going to be talking about kinship and adoption navigator programs. How do we set one up what makes it effective on things such as that we will be talking with Stephanie Perkowski. She is a social worker and policy analyst at Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago where she serves as an implementation consultant to Ohio's statewide kinship and adoption navigator program. OhioKAN and the program director at OhioKAN with us as well, and that is Julia Donovan. Tia Maria Smith is the program director for Pennsylvania Kin connector, which helps informal and formal kinship families find the information resources and emotional support they need. Tia Maria is passionate about kinship families, in part because she was raised by her great grandmother, she holds an MA in sociology from the University of Chicago. welcome Stephanie, Julia and Tia Maria, we are so glad to have you here to talk about this topic. All right, I think it probably helps to I'm not sure everyone. It's funny when you are a professional in this field. We hear a lot about the term navigator program. In fact, it's almost maybe it's because of the waters that I'm swimming in right now. Working with kinship families, it's almost a buzzword. So we are well familiar with what that are maybe not what they are, whether it should be in its best. But I am not sure that our audience is aware of what a navigator program is. So Stephanie, let me start with you just in general, if you could tell us what the navigator program is and what what is it intended to do?

Yeah, a navigator program is a type of social service program that connects families to the services, supports and resources that already exist within their communities, and also creates alignment between systems. So many kinship and adoptive families may not be aware of what's available to them, or they might need help understanding what they're eligible for. And navigator programs serve that purpose.

Okay, that makes sense. And so to Maria, let me ask you is like, is there anything separate from a focus for like kinship navigator programs? Is there a separate purpose or anything? In addition, you can add as far as as kinship navigator program, so it sets your program is exclusively kinship?

Yeah, I mean, our program is exclusively kinship. I mean, I guess the only thing I would add in support of what Stephanie has said, is that we really have to have strong relationships with the community, like with both private and public organizations in the community. So that's kind of another wing of what we do, you know, outreach with those organizations, keeping up to speed with all of the new organizations that, you know, may come out that will provide additional assistance to our family. So that's, that's a big part of the two because we have to make sure that we're informed in terms of what's going on. They are.

Okay, that makes sense. Julia, I'm not sure if you're the right person to answer this question, but I'm going to ask it to you. And then Stephanie May and Tia Maria may also chime in, who usually sets up either kinship or adoption navigator programs. I know you're with a state program Ohio can. So I'm assuming it was set up by the state but but are they always set up by governmental entities.

So I can speak to the governmental sort of entities that I'm aware of. So here in Ohio, it is a statewide initiative. And from the partners that I've spoken with across the United States, we do seem to be unique in the fact that we're statewide, and we're funded by the Ohio Department of job and family services. So Ohio has 88 counties in Ohio, Kansas, all those counties. Ohio also has a long history and kinship going back 20 years or so, and has taken part in some demonstration grants, with their kinship supports, kind of all throughout the years, and those have really been typically been run by the counties. So typically, the county child welfare, the, you know, children's service agencies are typically running those. But we also do see pockets sort of in community action agencies, areas on Aging, that we've seen some kinship programs kind of pop up as well. They're generally more localized than what Ohio candidates again, we're a statewide program.

That's interesting. Okay, Stephanie. So I assume you have probably a bigger picture view, perhaps nationwide. I would have thought that most of the kinship programs were set up by governmental or county but really governmental agencies. So what do you say that's fascinating to me that in fact, there are recorded Julia perhaps even more that are set up by her she didn't say that there are others that are set up by non governmental entities, what do you percentages and everything? What do you know that Stephanie?

Well, I don't have specific percentages for you. But I can say that one of the reasons that they're most often set up by governmental agencies is because that's how you find sustainable funding streams. Yeah. Adoption navigator programs. And so even those who are set up sometimes by local organizations are often funded through governmental agencies.

So what that leads to the next question, which is, of course, across the board, how do we find funding for these programs? So to Maria, what is can connector? You're funded by the state? I believe so what entity in the state funds you?

Well, right now, we're actually it's federally funded, like for the first three years of the program is federally funded. And then we are trying to get, you know, evidence based approval so that we can keep pulling federal funds. If that doesn't happen, then hopefully it would turn over to the state. But honestly, we would prefer to be federally funded because that that funding is more guaranteed than it is if it's the state, at least, that's how it is in Pennsylvania.

Well, I suspect everywhere, Stephanie, who are the funding from a governmental standpoint, who what type of what departments and state governments and what departments and federal government's are available to fund these navigator programs, be they adoption or kinship?

That's a great question, Don. So the biggest opportunity for funding kinship navigator programs right now is through federal title for E funds. So specifically, several states, like Ohio are trying to develop and demonstrate evidence for their programs, so that they can be included in the title for evidence based Clearinghouse, if included in the Clearinghouse, this would allow them to include those programs in their Family First Prevention service plans, which would enable them to receive 50% reimbursement for those programs from the federal government. So that is one of the reasons that you hear about so many kinship programs that are really starting up or evaluating effectiveness or programs that have existed and are running new evaluations to demonstrate evidence. There's also ways to use Title Three funds through the Older Americans Act. And those funds are limited to serving caregivers, ages 60 and older. So states typically distribute these funds through their area agencies on aging, and some kinship programs braid both title four E and three E funds. And as we start to think about kinship programs, and funding, states have a lot of discretion in really trying to intentionally pull down some of those federal funds that are available.

Okay, that makes sense. You, both Tia Maria and Stephanie have brought up the issue of evidence getting evidence based in order to be included in the title for IE funds and and the clearing house. So let's talk a little about that. First of all, the question would be the first question, do you need to work with a university in order to get evidence based? Tia Maria, who are you guys working with? Who is Ken connectors working with in order to collect the data for becoming evidence base? One of the things that I will pause and say one of the things that we have found is that it's astronomically expensive to become evidence based or to get that, and how to how do you afford to the quotes we were being given would be probably close to half of our budget. So for an annual year, so you know, prohibited? So I'll start with you to Maria, how, who are you working with? And how did you get funding to help you become evidence base? Could you use some of the federal funds to do that? Sure.

So first, I will say that even though we're federally funded, we still do work with DHS through the state. So they are our like, immediate overseer. And so the funding, we're working with Penn State University right now, and we're really in the kind of infancy stages of working with them, and DHS is funding them so they're not pulling any funding from our working budget to pay for the assistance from Penn

State. And Penn State assistance is going to be doing the research necessary in order for you to be qualify as evidence based okay, but I will

say I, you know, I don't know about the navigator program in Ohio, but for us, because we are also statewide, and we have a very, very small staff. It's five of us in total, three navigator specifically. And when we cover the whole state, our program is primarily a support line and that in us, you know, getting evidence based support for our support line is very, very challenging. So We really are trying to dole path we're trying to okay, if you want, we have to go through the Clearinghouse, we're going to try to figure out if we can do that. But we're also pushing to see, like if we can change the parameters for what is appropriate, given what our program is, which is not the traditional kind of program that that is supported by evidence research.

Darren, I wish you i, we have also seen that in a separate this is something totally separate. But we create curriculum for support groups, to in order to prove to do research that would show that only the attendance at a support group using that our curriculum is the only thing that affected that shifted perspective or made a difference. We could do the research to show that in fact, families have a greater we evaluate to greater confidence, decrease stress and a creating a sense of community. But we can't prove that that's the only thing that has that would have influenced that. So the chances so I yeah, I'm you could tell I'm somewhat frustrated. Stephanie, I'm going to come to you. But first, I wanted to ask Julia, are you guys attempting at Ohio can to become evidence base? And do you perceive that as important?

Yeah, we perceive that as incredibly important, right. So sort of from our perspective, we've been testing things out on young people and children and families for a long time without knowing its effectiveness, right. So we sort of feel that we owe it to this community to be able to test our hypotheses, right tests, our theory of change, test our assumptions to make sure it's actually working for families, we are really big on the Plan, Do Study Act process of continuous quality improvement. So really making sure that we fold into everything we do that feedback from the family, which leads me into sort of that idea of what we're doing for evidence based. So we're looking at a whole plethora of the title. For each measures, we're looking at kinship families, and adoptive families, we serve both. But we recognize that the clearing house at this particular juncture isn't particularly interested in our adoptive families. So I'll use kinship, just to be succinct here, but we are serving adoptive families as well. And we're looking at how they're able to access supports that align with their particular needs. We want to make sure those needs are met. We're trying to make sure that our caregivers feel supported, connected, confident and capable of caring for their children. We want to make sure that they're experiencing decreased migration into the child welfare system, increase stability and permanency caregivers capacity is built and trust between the kinship and adoptive families and other comfortable seeking help. And finally, last but not least, we're also looking to make sure that kinship and adoptive caregivers are connected with informal informal supports in their community. So we actually have a number of areas that we are looking at for the clearing house to make sure that our families are getting what they need.

Who are you? Are you doing it internally? Are you working?

We are doing an internally. So I'm going to take just a hot minute to sort of explain the way Ohio can works. It's a little bit confusing. We really value partnership and community and relationships. And so we have a team I call it the project team. So Stephanie Rakowski is on that team, as part of sort of the implementation science group at University of Chicago Chapin Hall. And then we have Kate implementation and evaluation, and they are evaluating team. So Stephanie and the K I and II, as we call them, again, K mutation evaluation. Our lead evaluators on this project, we have a request for grant agreement with the state of Ohio. So connect is actually the vendor that operates the statewide program. So Kinect has sort of wrapped all this team around to do it on behalf

the state and how they're defined funding to support the hiring of what Chapin Hall but as well as the k is k implementation.

Yeah, so we are super lucky shout out to Governor Mike DeWine. Here in Ohio. So Governor dewine this is something that speaks to his heart. He had a press conference on on it last week really concerned about keeping kids and families. And essentially on the first day when he was inaugurated, he said he wanted to start a kinship and adoption navigator program. And so we are funded out of our general revenue. And we do have Ohio Revised Code written into rural that funds Ohio can so we recognize that we are incredibly lucky. If the state was here, they would say we didn't really do anything. You know, except be open to what Governor dewine really wanted to put forward for families in Ohio. So again, incredibly grateful for his commitment to Families and keeping families together. Yes, you

are lucky. I am definitely happy for you. Definitely, if you again, I'm coming back to you for the broader picture, the higher the 30,000 foot view, if for those listening who are not as fortunate as Ohio can and the state of Ohio, how are groups? Especially I'm interested in those that perhaps are not government related, not government funded? How are they getting evidence base? And how are they funding the to get the evidence base, I mean, getting the data is not hard, getting the the funding and somebody to analyze the data. And all that is where we have found

it to be hard. Yeah, so I would say just based on my vantage point, I don't know of any groups that are funding in any way other than really partnering with our state and partnering with the federal government to access those funds, because it is just so very expensive. But at the same time, as you think about, you know, the cost of evaluation and the amount of sort of time energy and money that you would put into designing your own program, there's sort of two different calculus is that states are making some states like Ohio are putting a huge amount of resources into developing and designing a program specifically for them, and then getting that evidence base through evaluation. Other states recognize that that is an enormous undertaking that they might not have the capacity or the funding for. And so those states are anticipating that in the next couple of years, we're going to see several different kinship navigator programs, hopefully, on title for a clearing house. And so there are also states that are really just putting in place the infrastructure that they would need in order to sort of rapidly adopt and use an evidence based program once it's on the clearing house. And so as we think about the expense, there's sort of a couple of different ways to be planning long term for that, because we have to remember, the title for the evidence based clearing house is, is still just a few years old, it's it's basically a toddler. If that is

true. So if I understand you correctly, then the states that are saying we're going to wait and let somebody else develop the evidence and put it on. How will that the program? Well, I guess to Maria's program, if she was to get it on would be? Well, I guess so what you're saying is that the states that are waiting, would then look at can connectors or look at Ohio can and say, we will we're not going to obviously adopt Ohio camp, but we will say this is the elements that are adopted a Ohio candidate, or these are the elements that can connect or did and we will implement that. And the assumption is as long as you follow the protocol, that you will be able to then get federal title for funding. Okay, that makes sense. But that also means that organizations would have, and I suppose organizations themselves could do that. Let's say there's a council on aging that wants to I suppose they could just wait until somebody gets on? And then say, okay, these are the elements of Ohio, Kansas program, and we will adopt these elements. Is that correct? Stephanie?

Sort of. So, in order for a state to receive federal reimbursement through title four, he, what they would need to do is include that in their Family First Prevention Services Plan, which is approved by the Children's Bureau. And so they're only able to include programs or pick from programs that are on the evidence based clearinghouse for that plan, they can also there, there are actually ways to include services that don't necessarily meet that level of rigor and evidence, but the majority of the services in the plan have to be on the title for a clearing house. So as we start to think about states adopting other programming models, once that menu of options that they have on the title for a clearinghouse includes more kinship programs, states are going to have a lot more options of what they can decide to adopt.

I'm going to pause here for a minute to tell you about an exciting new resource that we are now offering thanks to the jockey being Family Foundation. Through them, we can now offer 12 free online courses. It's on our creating a online Parent Training Center. There are 12 courses they're each one hour they come with a certificate of completion you can utilize them or should be able to utilize them for your foster parent training to eat in service training requirements. If you are a foster parent, and even if you aren't, they are excellent courses that are directly relevant to improve your parenting. Whether you You be an adoptive parent, foster parent or a kinship parent, you can get these free courses at Bitly slash JB F support, there are 12 of them there you can go to Bitly bi T dot L Y. slashed J BF support. Thanks, Jackie being family. Is it possible now? And I'm directing this to Stephanie first and then to Maria, because this may be what happened with Tamaris program? Is it possible now to because there as far as I know, there is nothing on the clearing house that would be speaking towards this. So is it possible now to receive funding in order to start the program, and then work to either get evidence base or get the infrastructure in place, start providing services, but knowing that you will need to adapt your services to fit one of the evidence base one. So is it possible to get in on the ground, if you're especially if you're wanting to start, you don't want to wait for the X number of years, it's going to take for the evidence to come in and to get things on the on the Clearinghouse.

Many states actually already are providing some type of kinship service. So kinship navigator programs are not necessarily new, what we're really talking about is being sure that there are sustainable ways to fund these programs. So there actually is one kinship program on the title for a clearinghouse. And it's relatively recent, they were approved, I believe, back in October. And that's Ohio's kinship supports Intervention Program, also known as protect Ohio. So that was actually a title for a waiver demonstration projects that Ohio did before making this really significant investment in Ohio can so when the title for a clearing house started, that program had already been sort of implemented and evaluated. And that's the challenge that a lot of kinship programs that already existed are seeing, because if they did evaluations, they did them before knowing the standards of rigor that were necessary to get into the evidence based clearing house. So protect Ohio has recently been added. And with Ohio, can we were actually very lucky to have many of the folks who were involved in protect Ohio, at the table as we were designing Ohio can and so really thinking about ways that we could build on the good work that they had done.

Interesting. I was not from thank you for telling me that last time I checked, which obviously was before October, there was not anything to Maria, how about your experience? Because you're in the process of trying to get evidence base? I had it were you grandfathered in? Or were you created in allowed to begin in order to try to develop the standards for our develop the program and create evidence in order to be evaluated?

Yeah, we were given the funding. And then the idea is that we would gather the evidence both, you know, one of the things that I was losing sleep over, as I call it sleep Buster, was you know, how were we going to do it and looking at you know, prior to October looking at okay, well, programs that have submitted to the Clearinghouse, none of them got approved. So I definitely want to see what protected this is a great call for me. Definitely want to see what protect Ohio is joined to make sure that we can do you know, replicate some of those same things? Because I know, you know, like I said, the bulk of what we do is not going to get it. I mean, it leaves the other again, and the ones that did the same kind of stuff that we do, they did not make it through the clearing house. So we are definitely looking for something that's going to bolster what we do.

Stephanie, do you hear from Tia Maria is in my position. Do you know of others who I enjoy? You may well know of others as well. Do you know of others that are closer to getting evidence based? And so for those who are listening and are thinking, Okay, should we just wait? How long would they wait? Are there some that are kind of queued up that will relatively quickly become get on the Clearinghouse so that others can adopt their protocol? I'll start with you, Stephanie. And then Julia, I'd like to hear you chime in as well.

I know that there are several states that are working on either have already started their data collection for their evaluations, or just about to start. So with Ohio can you know our effectiveness trial is going to be starting very soon. I believe Washington I've heard has already started collecting data for theirs. And then I know that there are a few other states that also are they have their eyes on the clearing house. I believe New York has a program I believe a couple other states as well. So I would say that the best place to learn about existing programs is actually a report that was released by the Government Accountability Office. Back in July of 2020, and that lists out, first of all some of the ways that states are using this discretionary funds to serve grant families and relative caregivers, as well as some of the programs that already exist.

Can you send me that link? And we will include it in the show notes? Okay, excellent. Well, all right, excellent. So everybody is going to you can go to the show notes, it either on your phone or at on the creating a website under this show, and just click on it, it will take you to the GAO report. Excellent. Thank you so much. Now, Julia, this from the standpoint, how long do you think how long realistically will it take? You're at the beginning of the evidence gathering stage? How long do you anticipate from evidence gathering? To evaluation? Does it have to be a published report? Does it have to be peer reviewed? And so how long will all of that take before? Ohio? Can let's take it from the optimistic we'll get listed on the Clearinghouse? That's right. I

like that done. I'm gonna steal a Tia Maria slogan that I just learned. So this is the sleep Buster for me. Like, how long is it going to take us to get the evidence we need sort of, as Tia Maria sort of alluded to, it's hard when you're doing sort of a navigator program to meet the evidence, which means you need to serve a lot of people. And so ours is very number dependent. So we're quite a large program, by the end of this year, we'll be up to close to 40 navigators across the state, we're broken into 10 regions, you know, we're pretty robust system. And even, we aren't sure how long it will take us. So it depends on how many numbers we're serving. Our goal is to get up to about 400 families each week, or each month, we're also doing a randomized control trial. So we have this state broken into two cohorts, we have a control group and an intervention group, to do our comparing and contrasting with, we start our effectiveness trial officially on January 20 2020, to our goal, and our hope is to be done collecting evidence sort of at the end of 2022, and then start crunching the numbers and the evaluation team will do their work to my knowledge, and Stephanie might have a better idea of this. You know, I sort of try to take it one day at a time with my sleep busters. I do not believe it needs to be peer reviewed. You know, for that I Oh, can I believe you just submit your findings to the Clearinghouse directly?

I hope I have not contributed to your lack of sleep that by having the whole idea of peer review, Stephanie, do you want to add to her insomnia or you want to alleviate it?

Oh, no, I just wish that I had our friends for K implementation and evaluation. Because like Julia said earlier, Chapin Hall is doing sort of the implementation, consulting on this project. And then K implementation evaluation is doing the evaluation. So I would always defer to them by

totally fair, this in fairness to everybody who's listening, this was not in the outline, the minute I heard that we were at somebody raised evidence base, I was going, by golly, we're going there. Because if you want to talk about my sleep Buster, it's the it's the whole idea of how you how especially nonprofits can and it almost feels as if it's it is impossible. But it's hard because we also all or maybe I shouldn't speak for you. But we do want what we do to be based on evidence we do that is a valid, it's a valid thing to strive for. I just think that there needs to be a hope there's so many good programs that would never be able to afford it. But anyway, alright, thank you.

Could I jump in there with just one thought about that? One of the things and, and Ohio can that we're really thinking about and I think we're really intentional and mindful of is, you know, if I'm going to tell you in the heart of hearts, you know, because it's just the three of us here. We, you know, we have sort of the rest of the country in mind. So we are trying to be as inclusive and thoughtful of how will this translate, right, Ohio's are really interesting places. It's a little bit of a microcosm of the rest of the country. We have, you know, Appalachian areas, incredibly rural, we have urban environments, we have a lot of the different types of environments, other states, there's something in us for everyone, right? And so we as we're, we're really working on Ohio can are trying to make sure that it works in every environment, which is why we're regionalised you know, so that we can really pinpoint what we're looking at and what works in those different reason regions. And because we're so, so large, we have a really unique ability to compare and contrast and try to figure out and be hopefully thought partners and thought leaders and how this can work across the country. So we're hoping being, you know, because we know that we've, again been gifted a great responsibility with Governor dewine. And again, trying to just be really mindful of how we move that forward and thinking about our partners and other states. So I know I've personally talked to Florida, Wisconsin, Texas, Connecticut, you know, we're trying to do our part, to lead a really solid path.

So, Julia, what is the composition of your families, because when I was on the collaborative for a little bit with some other navigator programs, and we were very unique in that, like, 95% of our families are informal families, whereas those other programs, the majority of their families, were actually formal. It's a very different dynamic.

It is, so we are working on so Tamra, we're gonna have to talk after this learning for both sides. So, you know, our makeup right now is is approximate, I can tell you exactly 63% formal kinship 28% in normal kinship and 10% adoptive, and we, you know, I just another another sleep Buster, for me is how do we increase that informal? And we're seeing and and we're thinking about that as far as outreach and marketing? And how do we reach them? Right, especially when you're talking about such large numbers? Right? How do you find and we know, you know, I think that the grand families statistic is one in nine kinship families is known to the quote unquote, the system. Right. So how do we find those other eight is something that also keeps us up at night, right? Where do we find them? How do we find them? How do we support them in some of the ways that we're doing that? So regional advisory councils. So an interesting thing about Ohio can is part of our theory of change is we have a family track. So that's the direct service, we have other families. But each region has a regional advisory council that is made up of legal Headstart, community based agencies, advocacy groups, that we're really working on them as sort of ambassadors to help us reach into those those some of those other places and spaces schools, and really trying to figure out how we leverage that knowledge to find those informal families. Well, I

will say that, and I know this is one of your questions, so I feel okay, jumping forward. But I will say that like the for us, the hands down most effective way that we've gotten in formal families, is social media, advertising, Facebook, Instagram, Google search, honestly, number one, and then just sort of Pulse Point, which is, you know, random advertising when you're just searching on websites, but really Google Facebook, Instagram, I mean, we literally can see a significant drop, when we don't have that social media support. And same thing with driving traffic to the website. When we don't have that advertising running. We get like maybe 400 people to the website, when that advertising kicks in, it jumps to like 12,000 a month, it's like mind boggling how much of a difference that makes

me see the exact same thing. And for us, you know, we want we can watch it on a daily basis. So like, we're real data nerds, I just want to put that out there. Like we look and track everything that we possibly can. And we walk so spikes and we we've actually done comparative ads and know which ads run best for us for which particular families. We have a team. They're called jet pack. And they're our marketing and branding communications team. And they really helped us you know, do really well in that area. One other very surprising and I also don't feel bad because Timur you started it you know, Domino's your question. Another thing that's been really like, shockingly fruitful is radio. Yes. We just entered for fall. And we are like all of us are blown out of the water

boy that does that not You're not talking podcasting. You're talking radio

raise right up radio 32nd 62nd spots?

Well, we just we just did that. Because we because we were seeing that we were not getting the role of families. And we know that that that informal kinship care is just running rampant there. So we wanted to get those families. So we did start a radio program, it really just kicked off. So we haven't been able to assess the impact of it. But that's where we're going as well. In addition to the social

media, where we did billboards to in rural areas, definitely tricky to see how the billboard will pan out. But it's kind of a fun game for the staff to take their pictures and we post those you know, we have fun with it, but well you know,

the funny thing is like we because We go through DHS, like we're kind of removed in terms of being able to impact that stuff. So they do all that, like I would like, I want to optimize the media plan I wanted to, but they're like, no, we'll, we'll handle it. So I don't actually have a lot of visibility. to that. I just get to see what the results are. So I wish we could do more of that. But it is what it is.

Before we I'd have one question that I want to go back come right back to how do we get the word out? Because that is, you guys. It's fascinating. What you're telling me radio ads is blowing my mind. But that, but I want to ask one question before we leave. And that is, Julia, as you are developing your program. And actually, this is probably a dual question for you and Stephanie, and Stephanie is probably going Why didn't you tell me this? Because then I would have gotten Kay on there. But But my question is this does the entire program, because the program you're describing? Is it a retake a state who is willing to invest a boatload of money, which is they should? I think they should. But is it possible? Would it be possible once your program gets on the clearinghouse to choose pieces of it if the state's not willing to jump in use the entire thing? Julia, I'll start with you. And then if you want to defer over tell me when they will let Stephanie talk,

I'm probably going to pitch to Stephanie, and my knowledge in this area is enough to be dangerous, like I'm so focused on, you know, what we're doing here in Ohio. My understanding, and I'll let Stephanie correct me is you have to follow it pretty closely. You can't pick and choose what elements of Ohio can, you know, you're going to implement. So if you are going to implement I mean, I can say this from the manual we're creating I it's gonna be a really comprehensive and robust piece, we want to really be able to hand every state a comprehensive look at this is how you implement and this is how you job title $40, right down to I'm going to give a shout out for inclusion, diversity, equity and access. It's a huge push for us within our program. And really making sure that that's baked in and embedded so that when it does transition to other states in places, that we're really making sure that the fundamentals of Ohio can and how we visioned it, and renamed it to be you know, I hate to say it, but that they stay intact, right. And that sort of our intentionality translates across multiple states and sectors. Stephen, anything to add to that?

I would say that part of the lens that we have been approaching this with from the very beginning is implementation science. And so as we have been designing Ohio, can we've really been thinking about, you know, what would it take? What sort of information do we want to be sure to provide so that when a state adopts this program model, they have what they need in order to replicate that in their state. So I don't know that it's all that realistic to think that a state can really pick and choose pieces of a model. But as we think about a future where hopefully, we would have a variety of different models, states would probably be able to look at the title for a clearing house and get a sense of what their state needs and has the capacity to replicate. And then part of it is that implementation piece of taking a model that's worked elsewhere, and making sure that it is sort of customized and individualized to what your state needs, while keeping those core components of the model that we know really drive those outcomes and the impact that it makes on families.

Mm hmm. Yeah, that makes sense. It is also makes sense that I mean, it also means that the only ones who can implement such a program would be on a statewide level, because it's not it's going to, it's going to rule out any of the counselors for Ageing, or the different groups that are providing smaller navigator programs, you know, the agriculture extension services and things like that, that have programs but would never be able to fund something that large. But yeah,

but I think along the lines of what Stephanie just said, when I was on the collaborative, like one of the things that we talked about, because there were, again, varying budgets, varying staff hearing geographies covered for all of these navigation programs. So we were thinking in terms of, could there be a possibility of three models? One is like, what are the essential elements that you have to have maybe, again, maybe to be able to, you know, get support through the clearing house, then maybe a deluxe and a premium, the idea that, like, there's rigor behind you know, the rationale for each of the services that you offer, but if you can't go, you know, to the premium level, does that mean that you can't offer anything so that's kind of how we were looking at it because even as it you know, like when Julia said that you have 40 navigators on this phone My chair, we have three. So like, that's just amazing. I, you know, I don't, I don't know if we would get the budget for 40 navigators. But

yeah, that's it, even if you should. Let me pause here for just a minute to remind you that we did a recent show on a guide to raising your grandchild. Great show great content. And if you want to never miss out on any of this type of content that impacts your family, please follow the creating a podcast. Now, whatever app you use to access it, you can also subscribe or follow from that app. It helps us to have subscriptions, but it also helps you. So follow us subscribe to us on your podcasting app. Let's move on. Because there's so much that this is such a fascinating topic. To me personally, I think to Maria and I are both world videos that we're seeing. And she and I are both just shaking our heads. So this is so fascinating. We've talked about the advertising. So I'm going to kind of skip over that. Now I want to talk about the resources that you're offering. And, and specific, I am assuming that that most programs are have some form of a website presence. And that is that forms the basis of the program. Tia Maria is your program is is very much I realize a hotline based program. But you also have a website, do you not that you're referring families to?

Yeah, so just to let you know that in terms of the requirements for our grants, because our program was created through a grant with three elements. One was the support line that also had to embed pa 211. As you know, providing information and resources like that's a resource that we can use to access that information, then we had to have a website. And then the third is we had to have an advisory committee that consisted of kinship families, either caregivers, or people who were raised in kinship families, and then you know, family care professional. So those were the three requirements of our program. So yes, we do we definitely have a website.

Alright, Julia, then for Ohio, can I am aware that you do definitely have a website? What have you done to make your website user friendly? Are there things you can tell our audience of things that you've learned that okay, this is this is this is we tried this, this has really worked, it has been easy for people to use, or vice versa. We tried it and it wasn't particularly easy.

Yeah, this is a tricky topic for us. Because we're at this point, we're keeping our cards pretty close to our chest to say, say because we need families to call in for evidence based and our randomized control trial. So our website consists of more generalized information. We do a lot with our blogs. And that's very popular and we do a lot with our newsletter, and sort of how to connect with us on a community level. Really any supports for an individual families, if you go to our website, I'll say like, call the phone numbers everywhere, because we need families to contact in that line. But I will say one of the things that we also did with Ohio, Canada is we partnered with the Human Services Research Institute, so hs ri, and we built a database specifically for Ohio, that has over 7000 resources. And we operate it much like Google Maps and Yelp. So it has the ability for navigators to put in reviews, we send out we call it a binders. So it's a full packet that has links to everything that they need, we can also text that out. And we built that within Ohio cans so that we could really be very, very focused on the kinship and adoptive families and what their unique needs are. And much like Tia Maria was sort of her counsel 1/3 of our navigators do have lived experience either in the kinship or adoptive space. And we really work with our navigators in our team almost in a peer support type of way and making sure that it's resources that they would use, and so on and so forth. And we also one of the other things that we have for families is we have a benefits coordinator dedicated to Ohio can to help with things like social security applications. So both federal and state benefits to make sure that families are getting access to everything that they are qualified for and entitled to. And so that is really an important piece for us as well. And those are things that we've built into Ohio can to make sure that we're really targeting towards this population.

Interesting. So that is a person you're a benefits coordinator is a one on one process where they call in and get information. That's excellent.

Yeah, it's yeah, it works almost like an internal referral.

Yeah, yeah. That makes okay. I

love your program. I think we have wanting to do? I mean, we we have to do a lot of that ourselves. But like when we were just sort of blue skying. Like, if we started this from scratch, knowing what we know now, and could do that, that's definitely one thing that we would do, because we have so many people calling in for oh, I need the children's social security number, I need a birth certificate. Like, yeah, we would love to have that. In addition, we would love to have like, a legal representative, you know, someone who could help with that, because, again, that's a big thing guard, custody, things like that, which, you know, I, again, because of our connection with the government, we have, we haven't been allowed to have a lawyer, but we're still working on making a connection like that. But like our vision would be it would like we would love it if it could be a one stop shop that we wouldn't necessarily have to send people to a lot of other organized organizations for those basic things.

Let me ask a question about that. Because you raised an issue that we also We're actually right in the middle right now of doing listening sessions with kinship families in room. And one of the things that we're hearing loud and clear is the need for, if not legal advice, at least unweld legal advice would be wonderful. And I'm sure that they would, that would be ideal. Again, from a funding standpoint, perhaps not an option, but understanding their legal options. So what are you guys doing in Ohio can on that?

Yeah, sure. And I'm never gonna remember the acronym, but shout out to one of my favorite people, Molly Russell at lasso, which is the Legal Aid of South East Oh, Southern SE. And who knows? laughs So, and they're great people. And they actually, we're currently in review state now. But they really put together a flowchart for us. And almost like a rubric of if this and that. And here's your rights. And we are about to train all of our navigators on this with it with their support. And some of our we do have legal on many of our regional advisory councils that I talked about earlier. So really trying to think about how do we plan for the future. We know courts is a big, you know, how each sort of jurisdiction is sort of managing guardianship or custody. We know all of this is incredibly challenging for families to operate at statewide, you know, the challenges abound in this area. So we're really in this sort of early planning stages of how we can help support and think through this, but it is also one of the large needs we see, kind of our top three are our basic needs. So I think most people understand basic needs child care, and then caregiver support. So thinking about how we can support the caregivers that are are caring for young people, they love.

Stephanie, how do you see kinship programs, providing the parenting support, caregiver support? Can Kara cover a whole host of things, but one part of caregiver support it that we're seeing what we're hearing from families, is some of the parenting challenges. I mean, the one that keeps coming up is helping kids with social media, phones, gaming, internet, things like that, but also, parenting kids who've had prenatal exposure, although that's part of another issue is getting people to recognize that their child children may have been prenatally exposed, discipline, things like that. How are how do we what type it again, from a scalability standpoint, it doesn't sound like Ohio can is worrying as much about scalability, because they've got the funding, but from how are other programs providing parenting support that is that will be utilized, as opposed to if you could do it, assuming that one on one is not going to be financially an option?

Yeah, that's a great question, Don. So I think one of the things to think about when think about kinship navigator or adoption navigator programs is really, they're sort of a source of connections, because we know that one single program cannot provide, you know, a vast array of different high quality services sort of everywhere in anywhere. But we also know that there are so many great community based organizations that are already providing these services throughout the state. So like Julia mentioned a little bit earlier, Ohio cam, one of the first things that they did was they did this massive community mapping undertaking, where they were able to map out all of the different service providers. And so what they have is, they have a needs assessment that categorizes needs into 10 different domains. And then they have a giant sort of as Julia call it a sort of a cross between like Google Maps and yell where they're able to search by those particular domains and find the services in the families community. So it's not as though Ohio can Navigators are the ones sort of actively doing some of those really detailed pieces where you may need someone that's like a therapist that specializes in working with kinship or adoptive families. Navigators aren't necessarily equipped to do that. And they're not necessarily equipped to do sort of the legal advising. But they know who is and they know how to get people connected to those service providers, so that you don't have families who are, you know, wading through all of the different things that they possibly could need? Because that's, that's just so overwhelming. So navigator services, really just take some of that burden off of families, and really support people in untangling what is a really complex set of social services that they may or may not need in their communities?

Yeah, that's well said that the the intent is not that the individual navigators solve all the problems, they are to be a connector that is very much the case I that makes good sense. Today, I get to thank another long term supporter and partner of creating a family in this podcast. They are Vista Del Mar, they're a licensed nonprofit adoption agency with over 65 years of experience helping to create families, they offer a home study only service as well as full service, infant adoption, international adoption, home studies, and post adoption support. They also have a foster to adopt program, you could get more information about them online at vista del Last question, and I'm directing it to Stephanie, there seems to be from well, I've directed to Stephanie, but I'm going to open it up to both to Maria and Julia, in case they have different insight, there seems to be a great deal of diversity as to how states are approaching the the whole kinship navigator aspect that came down through the family first Preservation Act Family First Act, some, which is Ohio is and I actually think that, that Pennsylvania has also done a good job, and Ohio seems to be doing a stellar job. And so that, you know, very broad to others, who don't seem to be doing much at all. Do you have any data on that, Stephanie, as to the diversity of how states are approaching this?

I don't know that I have any specific data. But I would say for your listeners who are in a specific state who want to find out more about what they're dentists do it yeah.

How do they do that?

The first place to look is if your state has already submitted a Family First Prevention Services Plan, I would look at the definition of candidacy, to see how whether kinship families or relative caregivers are included in that definition as eligible for prevention services, I would also take a look at sort of the way in which kinship families or adoptive families are talked about in that plan. And then some states have not yet submitted those plans. Some states really are still, you know, in the process of engaging their community stakeholders, many have different opportunities for community based agencies to provide feedback and be engaged in some of that planning process. So if your state has submitted a plan, read that plan and get familiar with it. And if your state hasn't submitted that plan, see if there are still opportunities to provide input,

and how would people find how would they find their state's Family First Prevention Plan?

I would start with a Google search. I think also, the Children's Bureau website has a list of which states have approved plans and which states have submitted plans. So you could also just check to even see whether or not your state's plan has been submitted or approved yet, and then the best place to reach out would be your state social service agency to get connected to the discussions about that.

Excellent. Okay, great resource and to get to the Children's Bureau, just typing Google Children's Bureau Family First Prevention plans and it will get to to the to the website without very much having to fiddle around. Alright, thank you. I said I was going to open it up to Maria and Julia to Maria, any last words that you wanted to share?

Just that, you know, our program is relatively young. And so to the degree that, you know, we have interactions with states that have navigator programs and understanding what they're doing, what's working for them, that, you know, that's really helpful to me. Like I said, I've learned a lot today in terms of, you know, thinking about how we can approach some of the things that we want to do i You know, I experienced the same thing with the collaborative, you know, to the degree that all of these programs can kind of start talking to each other and sharing information that I think that will be extremely helpful for us to be, you know, as efficacious as we can for the communities that we're serving.

Actually, you do. Julia, last word?

Yeah, I would just echo what Tia Maria Said, I think the most important aspect from where we sit right now is to stay in communication and partnership with each other, and to keep learning and growing from each other. Right that that continuous growth and learning that we do only exponentially supports our families. And, and that's what we're here to do is to support those families and believe our families and what they need.

What that is the perfect note to end on. Thank you so much, Stephanie Murkowski Julia Donovan and Tia Maria Smith for being with us today. As you could tell, this is a topic of I think it's an intense Well, it isn't intense picture. It's to me, but it's also I think, really general interest to so many people who are working in the field and trying to support the needs of kinship families. Thank you all so much, and to our audience. I'll see you again next week.

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