• September/October 2015
  • Vol. 16, No. 7

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Assessing the Needs of Kinship Caregivers

An article in GrandFamilies: The Contemporary Journal of Research, Practice and Policy details the implementation of the Connecting for Kids Kinship Navigators Program. This 3-year demonstration study was funded by the Administration for Children and Families as part of the 2008 Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act. It was piloted to measure and provide needed services to kinship caregivers.

This study determined that while kinship care can be a positive alternate placement to foster care for many children, kin caregivers need proper support services, just as foster parents do, to sustain that placement. Caregiver support services identified include financial resources, child care, legal services, parenting skills training, assistance with housing and food, access to support groups and training, recreational activities for children and families, information about available services, and tutoring and counseling for the children.

The article includes a literature review of existing research on kinship caregivers' service needs, examining topics such as the benefits of kinship care; caregivers' financial, child care, and legal needs; and other needs. The Connecting for Kids Kinship Navigators Program responded to these research findings by serving as a conduit to help kinship caregivers throughout six counties in South Carolina identify and address their needs. The program employed the Family Needs Scale as a measurement tool to evaluate and refer participants to the services they needed. Kinship navigators collected demographic information on 370 caregivers, and the article provides overall results of identified needs through detailed tables embedded in the article.

In a follow-up survey conducted during the project's third year, caregivers indicated that the kinship navigator program helped them connect with the support and financial resources that they needed. This outcome led to the incorporation of kinship navigators into the social services agency's standard service array. Recommended policy changes include the need to inform caregivers of and providing caregivers access to the same services as foster parents, increase awareness of kinship caregivers' eligibility for services that can assist them in continuing to care for the children in their homes, and better inform caregivers of their eligibility.

Funding for this project was provided by a discretionary grant awarded to the South Carolina Department of Social Services by the Administration for Children and Families (Grant #: 90CF0017). Access the article "Using Kinship Navigators to Assess the Needs of Kinship Caregivers," by Suzanne T. Sutphin, GrandFamilies: The Contemporary Journal of Research, Practice and Policy, 2(1), 2015, at http://scholarworks.wmich.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1027&context=grandfamilies (PDF - 231 KB).
 

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