What is kinship care?
Relatives and other significant adults in families’ lives have always played a role in raising children when their parents were unable to provide effective care. The care, nurturing, and protection of children by extended family and other supportive adults is a long-standing tradition in many cultures.
When the availability of traditional foster families began to decline, the child welfare system began to look to extended families as a resource for the care of children and youth who entered the formal child welfare system.
Since that time, increasing numbers of children who enter foster care have been placed in the care of kin. Kin are a source of support and a vital resource for parents. When kin are engaged early, their support can prevent children from being removed from their home. When circumstances make it necessary to remove children from their home, kin are often ideal caregivers.
Integrating kinship care and child welfare systems
Child welfare systems have moved from an almost exclusive reliance on unrelated foster families to a greater reliance on relatives and others with close relationships to the family.
This significant shift in caregiving arrangements has inspired child welfare professionals to focus on the appropriateness and relevance of policies, practices, services, and supports for this population of children in foster care and their kinship families.
Casey Family Programs' committment to kin
Given this growing focus on kinship care, in 2004, Casey Family Programs sponsored a Breakthrough Series Collaborative (BSC) to improve how systems support kinship care.
While kinship arrangements may be informal arrangements that happen naturally between family members without state or legal intervention, the focus of this BSC was specific to kinship families who are involved with the public or tribal child welfare system. This report summarizes the work of the teams involved in the BSC.
Promising practices and lessons learned
This report is intended to be an easy-to-use resource for administrators and practitioners in the child welfare field who desire to learn about the successful strategies Breakthrough Series Collaborative teams developed to support kinship care.
It is Casey's intent that, with this information, administrators and practitioners will benefit from the experience of BSC teams and apply the successful strategies to improve the services to children and families within their jurisdiction.