The Importance of Keeping Children with Relatives or Non-related Caregivers
Children and teens can enter foster care for a number of reasons. When this happens, government and child welfare agencies work together to find the safest and best home for them. A relative, such as a grandparent or someone the child already knows, is always the first option agencies seek out since children deserve to be be in the least restrictive environment with people they are familiar with.
If relatives aren’t available when a child enters foster care, social workers will reach out to teachers, neighbors, family friends – someone who the child knows and is comfortable with. Studies show that kinship caregivers are frequently able to care for these youth during times of struggle. This is also helpful in alleviating the amount of trauma youth go through after being separated from their parents.
How Does the Process Work?
In Missouri, when a court decides that a child should not remain in the parents’ home due to safety concerns, the Missouri Children’s Division begins the search for kinship care providers. Once a potential option is located, the kinship caregiver must pass a series of background checks and initial home inspection for the child to be placed in their home.
Following this, a Training and Assessment Specialist contacts the relative family to start the assessment and licensing process. These meetings take place in the caregiver’s home and consist of a series of questions and paperwork to be completed. At times, some modifications to the home are needed. Families are enrolled in the required kinship caregiver training and are provided with any additional resources they may need to meet the child’s needs in the home.
Even if you’re not a blood relative, you can still care for a child prior to completing all of the required training and paperwork. The goal is to provide the best care for children in foster care so they will have life-long health. One way we can do this is by placing the child with someone they know and are familiar with.
Check Out These Heartwarming Kinship Stories From Our Team!
My Childhood Led Me to Advocate for Youth in Foster Care
– Stephanie Everman, KVC Kinship Care Specialist
When I was three years old, I was placed in the care of my maternal aunt, uncle and two older brothers who had already been residing with my aunt for a year or so. My parents had four children in their early twenties and faced many financial hurdles. Over time, my mom suffered from substance use which led to me being placed in foster care.
In my role as a Kinship Care Specialist with KVC, my mission is to give children a voice and show them how they can be in the ones in the “driver’s seat” of their lives. Everyone deserves connection, and helping children facing a time of hurt and loneliness can be hard. But with connections through family and friends, these children can feel a sense of belonging and learn to love themselves!
Kinship Care Is Life-Changing for Youth In Foster Care
– Chrystal Onyoyo, KVC Kinship Care Specialist
In 2014, I became a part of the Kinship Care Team at KVC. The amount of knowledge that I have gained in this role is immeasurable, and I absolutely love the way that Kinship has grown. I feel that it is so vital to the success of the children and the families that we serve. Also, I’m very thankful for the work that KVC leadership has done to showcase the need for kinship placements. Our leadership makes sure we use evidence-based practices, tactics that are tested and have proven to change the lives of children and families for the better.
Providing familial connections for children in foster care is truly life changing. We may have a child who entered foster care at a young age and didn’t know much about their biological family. Our Kinship team is able to connect them with their blood relatives and help them make lasting connections. Can you imagine how powerful that can be, just to know that there is someone out there, connected to you, potentially by blood, that wants to be a part of your life? I have been able to provide family information to kids who had no idea of their relatives. Now they have someone to call when they are having a rough day, or someone to call when they are having a great day.
Now, more than ever with fewer available foster homes, the KVC Kinship teams are working even harder to make familial connections and placements. KVC Kinship workers are truly working so hard and going above and beyond for our youth to place them with relatives.
I love what Kinship does, what it stands for, and love knowing that I am actually making a difference!
Want to learn more about providing a caring home for a child or teen? Contact us and we’ll be in touch with you shortly!