Nationally, there has been an increase in the numbers of children in kinship care settings. These placements involve relatives stepping up to raise nieces, nephews, grandchildren and other kin when their parents can no longer raise the children themselves. Grandparents or other relatives often step up to raise children because of parental deployment, substance abuse issues, parental death, or mental or physical health issues. Kinship placements are a good alternative to children being placed into foster care placement with non-relatives by the Department for Community Based Services, if abuse or neglect occurs.
While familial placements carry several benefits for children, kinship caregivers often encounter unforeseen issues in their journey to raise the children in their care. These issues may include a lack of financial resources, legal issues, difficulties navigating available supports, responding to emotional and/or behavioral issues of the children, and facing stressful family dynamics. This week we are highlighting resources to help strengthen Kentucky kinship families.
With 53,000 children in kinship care in Kentucky, support groups have become increasingly popular in helping caregivers navigate their roles. These support networks have provided relative caregivers with a space to share their experiences and struggles, as well as learn about community resources that can help assist their families. Research suggests that support groups also help to increase levels of social support for kinship families by connecting caregivers with others experiencing similar family structures.
One support group making a positive impact on kinship caregivers in Kentucky is the Relatives As Parents (RAP) group sponsored by the Family Resource and Youth Services Centers (FRYSCs) of the Danville Schools. This group aims to support and empower grandparents and other relative caregivers raising children who are not their own. The RAP program offers the following services to families:
- A social network for grandparents/relatives raising children under 18
- Referrals and access to appropriate community-based services and resources
- Opportunities to learn and provide support to and from families in similar situations
- Tips for coping with changing family dynamics
- An understanding of effective ways to negotiate with outside services
RAP organizers provide a time and a place to come together once a month to share the successes and the struggles of parenting as a relative caregiver. If you have questions about the RAP program, please contact Anna Houston at (859) 936-8564.
To see if your county has a support group for kinship caregivers, please click here. If interested in beginning a support group in your area, check out this training manual, created by the University of Kentucky and co-chair of the Kinship Families Coalition of Kentucky, Doug Burnham.
Additional resources to strengthen kinship families in Kentucky include:
- The Kinship Support Hotline launched by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) to address the needs of kinship families and to provide an outlet for kinship caregivers to address issues, locate resources, and ask questions. Call (877) 565-5608 Monday-Friday from 8:00 am- 4:30 pm.
- The caregiver affidavit gives caregivers the authority to make medical and educational decisions on behalf of the child in their care. Without formal guardianship granted to the caregiver, it can be difficult to navigate a caregiver’s role and this affidavit helps relatives ensure children in their care get the resources they need.
Need more information about starting a support group or have questions about resources for kinship families? Contact Shannon Moody at 1-888-825-5592 X 126 or firstname.lastname@example.org.