Kinship care refers to the care of children by relatives or, in some jurisdictions, close family friends (often referred to as fictive kin). Relatives are the preferred resource for children who must be removed from their birth parents because it helps maintain the children's connections with their families, increases stability, and overall minimizes the trauma of family separation. Kinship caregivers may be referred to as formal or informal kinship families based on whether they are officially involved with the child welfare system.
Kinship caregivers and families may be faced with needs, questions, and constraints that are different than those of resource foster care families. Child welfare agencies continue to address these unique needs through kinship navigator programs that help caregivers manage the foster care licensing process; connect families to available supports and services; and understand legal, medical, or other systems and requirements.
As jurisdictions place higher emphasis on placing children and youth in relative or familiar settings, some are expanding and advancing the support provided to kinship caregivers. The podcast series, Advances in Supporting Kinship Caregivers, comprises episodes featuring the advances created and implemented by child welfare agencies and their partners to strengthen kinship families and meet the unique needs faced by these caregivers.
Part 3 focuses on the unique successes experienced within the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, located inside Washington State. The Tribe’s flexible use of funding and their prevention-focused approach have resulted in a near 70-percent reduction in the number of children in care. Their success is built upon strong, trusting relationships forged between with tribal members. The examples shared in this episode demonstrate the power of being able to tailor supports and services to the specific needs and culture of the families being served.
The following individuals are featured in this episode:
- Cheryl Miller, director, Port Gamble S’Klallam Children and Family Services
- Joylina Gonzalez, family care coordinator, investigator, and program manager, Port Gamble S’Klallam Children and Family Services
- Donna Jones, former kinship navigator and chemical dependency counselor, Port Gamble S’Klallam Children and Family Services
Topics discussed include the following:
- How Port Gamble S’Klallam’s Children and Family Services differs from other State and Tribal child welfare agencies
- How the trusting relationships Children and Family Services shares with the community enable proactive engagement with families before they encounter the child welfare system
- Tailoring services and assessments to address a community’s specific needs
- Guidance for child welfare professionals who may work with Tribal families and communities