September is National Kinship Care Month, and it is also recognized in Kentucky as Kinship Care Month by Governor Andy Beshear. It is important to continue lifting up the voices of our relative and fictive kin caregivers to ensure the children in their care have every opportunity to grow up to be successful and thriving Kentucky citizens.
Kinship and fictive kin caregivers continue to step up for children in Kentucky to ensure they stay safely connected to relatives and close family friends when their birth parents are unable to safely care for them. An estimated 59,000 children in Kentucky are being raised by relatives, a majority of whom are grandparents. Kentucky is tied for 2nd for the highest rate of children being raised by kinship caregivers.
So what does that mean for our kids and families?
Children in the care of relatives may have experienced trauma, parental incarceration, or loss and are in need of services to ensure their success. It also means caregivers, who often unexpectedly take on the responsibility of the children, are in need of supports for a successful transition to their new role, too.
What supports are available to relative and fictive kin caregivers in Kentucky?
The Department for Community Based Services continues to build upon and improve access to supports, through available programs as well as their partnership with the Kentucky Kinship Resource Center at the University of Kentucky.
Last summer DCBS and University of Kentucky presented information about the current services available. See the recording of that presentation HERE.
The latest resources from the Kentucky Kinship Resource Center (KKRC) are below. The website has information about the kinship programs in the KKRC section and can be another way caregivers can find program information. On the website, they will be able to access:
- The KY-KINS Peer Support Program where kinship caregivers can register to participate or be referred to the program
- The KIN-VIP Support Group Program where kinship caregivers can view the current calendar of virtually-based support groups and join at anytime
- The Kinship Catalog for information on LIVE webinars, online resources, and interactive training modules. This content is ever-growing and we hope it provides a variety of resources to kinship families!
Where Advocacy is Still Needed
As a kinship or fictive kin caregiver, or someone who supports them, consider your role in advocating for children and families in kinship settings.
- Every year, meeting with the Kentucky General Assembly is an opportunity to advocate for relative and fictive kin caregivers, whether it is for additional needed financial supports, ensuring the balance of rights between birth parents and kinship caregivers, or ensuring children in kinship care can access benefits similar to those of children in foster care. Learn more about becoming an advocate HERE.
- Judges help to decide on major life changes for relative and fictive kin caregivers. Learn more about why engaging in judicial elections and other electoral advocacy is important for kids and families HERE (7 minute video).
- The opioid epidemic is a major driver of children living with their relatives and close family friends. Now is the time to lift up the voices of kinship caregivers with decisionmakers using investments to address the epidemic. The Kentucky Opioid Abatement Advisory Commission has been established to oversee Kentucky’s portion of opioid settlement funds, which we believe must be dedicated to support the children impacted, as well as go upstream in efforts to prevent opioid use and mitigate childhood trauma. The Commission will hold community Town Hall meetings happening between September 19 – November 29, 2022 in the following locations: Pikeville, Ashland, Hazard, Covington, Lexington, Louisville, Bowling Green, and Paducah. Attendees will hear more about the opioid settlement funds and have the opportunity to offer public remarks. Find more details and make a plan to attend a Town Hall near you.
Learn more about the Kinship Families Coalition of Kentucky and other resources at kinshipky.org.