September is Kinship Care Month, which highlights and celebrates the importance of kin caregivers.
Kinship care is the placement of children with non-parent relatives, such as grandparents, or like-kin adults who have existing relationships with youth and their families, such as family friends. For many families and communities, it’s a long-standing and important practice to work together to care for children.
Kinship care is also crucial for making the child welfare system more stable and supportive for children and families involved with it. Research shows that when children and youth must live outside their birth parents’ homes for whatever reason, they often fare better in kinship placements than when placed with strangers.
Kinship care is often informal, but in the child welfare system it is increasingly prioritized for official out-of-home (foster) placements. Like-kin caregivers are often included in the definition of kinship care, and like-kin placements have shown similar positive impacts on stability and outcomes to placements with relatives. However, current policies in Wisconsin distinguish between them when it comes to benefits and legal requirements for long-term placement within the child welfare system. This can make it harder to sustain like-kin placements.
At SaintA, we know the value of kinship care. When out-of-home placements are required, we prioritize kinship placements whenever possible, and aim to place a minimum of 40% of children in kinship homes. Our Kinship Navigation Program supports these caregivers as they navigate the process and prepare for reunification with birth parents. We also advocate for improving official material and logistical support for kinship caregivers, such as increased monthly payments for kinship caregivers, and for official inclusion of like-kin caregivers within the state definition of kinship care.You can learn more about the importance of Kinship Care in our issue brief.
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