April 2016Vol. 17, No. 2Site Visit: Arizona Kinship Navigator Project
In 2012, the Children’s Bureau awarded seven 3-year grants for the Family Connection Grants: Child Welfare/TANF Collaboration in Kinship Navigation Programs cluster. These kinship navigation projects support connections between family members and children and youth who are in, or are at risk of entering, foster care by helping kin caregivers identify and access appropriate and meaningful services. One of these grants was awarded to the Arizona's Children Association (AzCA) to implement the Arizona Kinship Navigator Project (AzKN). Through this project, AzCA proposed to increase the safety, permanency, and well-being of children and youth in kinship care by providing services to formal and informal caregivers. AzKN has five objectives:
- Ensure kinship families have access to the benefits for which they are eligible
- Provide linkages to needed legal services
- Navigate existing community support systems
- Strengthen kinship families involved with the child welfare system
- Enhance other community-based and government responses for kinship families
Project partners include the Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS); Arizona Department of Economic Security, including its Family Assistance Administration and Division of Aging and Adult Services; Arizona Grandparent Ambassadors; Casey Family Programs; the Children’s Law Center; Seeds of Hope; and Southern Arizona Legal Aid. The evaluation is being conducted by LeCroy & Milligan Associates, Inc.
The project had several components, including helping kin caregivers access Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) child-only grants, providing information sessions for kin, helping kin obtain legal assistance, coordinating support groups, and connecting kin to existing community support systems.
The project evaluation was still ongoing at the time of the site visit, but the evaluators already recognized the potential cost savings of the project to DCS. The evaluators estimate that DCS saves $4.4 million annually on case management for the more than 1,800 children involved with the project who may have been diverted from entering formal foster care. Additionally, if those 1,800 children who entered into formal kinship care settings had entered congregate care instead, it would have cost DCS an estimated $72.9 million annually. The evaluators also estimated the cost savings to DCS if the nearly 1,400 children in informal kinship care settings who were served by the project had entered family foster care ($11.2 million annually) or congregate care ($54.9 million annually) instead.
For more information, contact Julie Treinen, project director, at JTreinen@arizonaschildren.org, or visit the project's website at http://arizonakinship.org/. The full site visit report for this project will soon be available on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website at https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/management/funding/funding-sources/federal-funding/cb-funding/cbreports/.
The Arizona Kinship Navigator Project is funded by the Children's Bureau (Award 90CF0048101). This article is part of a series highlighting successful Children's Bureau grant-funded projects around the country, emerging from site visits made on behalf of the Children's Bureau.