E-Kinnections
A newsletter of the 
Kinship Care Resource Center (KCRC) 
December 12, 2012
Greetings!
 

The Kinship Care Resource Center is excited to announce that it has received a small grant from the Michigan Children's Trust Fund that will enable us to continue our information and referral work, revive our local and collaborative efforts, and develop some limited case management resources for kinship families who are struggling accessing the necessary services for them to maintain relative children in their home.

  

This one year pilot project, running November 1, 2012 to September 30, 2012, will get us back on track assisting families, raising awareness of kinship issues and providing the Michigan Department of Human Services with the information they need to better target services and hopefully access additional funding.

  

But the real question is...WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU AND THE FAMILIES YOU WORK WITH?!?

 

Well...it means:

  • Improved response times for calls to the Center
  • New opportunities to network and coordinate with others in the field
  • Access for families to limited case management services for help dealing with particularly difficult challenges
  • Continued receipt of the E-Kinnections newsletter for professionals on a quarterly basis
  • A new family Kinnections newsletter that you can share with families
  • An improved website (coming soon) with information on resources and best practices
  • More timely and relevant information distributed through social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter

So stay tuned and make sure to check out the SAVE THE DATE information below! The Kinship Care Resource Center looks forward to working with you to improve the lives of kinship families in Michigan.

 

 Sincerely,

 

 - KCRC Staff

   

Is there a kinship topic you want us to cover more in-depth in a future newsletter? If so, let us know by e-mailing us at kinship@msu.edu.


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Information Resources -

Child Assistance in a Downward Slide

 

Child Care is an important form of assistance for families in today's society. Having adequate child care enables the child(ren) to develop and learn, and also gives caregivers the ability to work without worrying about the child. When the child care that is available to caregivers is adequate, it can be a very positive thing in both the caregiver and child's life. However, when child care does not adequately meet the needs of families, or is not available within the financial constraints of families; it can prove to be a large burden. Child assistance policies have been put into place in order to alleviate some of these burdens placed on caregivers in relation to child care. When these policies are working fully, they can be very effective in helping caregivers obtain adequate child care, but when they are not adequately working, these policies can leave a large gap. The National Women's Law Center has released a publication that explains the downward slide that child care assistance in today's society has taken and how it affects children and caregivers.

 

The publication explains the changes that occurred in each of the following child care assistance areas: funding for child care assistance for low-income families, income eligibility limits, waiting lists, copayments, reimbursement rates, and eligibility for families with parents searching for a job. In conclusion, the publication explains that these cutbacks in child care assistance policies have resulted in families not having the child care they need to help children learn and to help caregivers work.

 

As providers working with kinship families, it is important to be well-informed in these areas. Child care is one of the areas in which kinship caregivers struggle to obtain adequate child care within a limited budget.  As providers working with these caregivers, more advocacy and research may be required in order to help these kinship caregivers obtain child care.

 

To learn more about these cutbacks to child care assistance policies and gain a better understanding of where Michigan stands in comparison to other state, follow this link: http://www.nwlc.org/resource/downward-slide-state-child-care-assistance-policies-2012 . Also, don't forget to connect with your local Great Start, a great local resource for child care and child development opportunities. Go to www.greatstartforkids.org for more information.

 

 

 

Challenges of Caring for the Second Family

 

In most cases, once a child is an adult and begins having children of their own, their relatives do not expect to have to step in and raise the children. But due to multiple reasons, this is a reality for a number of grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, etc. Due to a variety of circumstances, these individuals must become parents for a second time while acting as kinship caregiver to children. This transition of parenting for a second generation can be a difficult challenge for kinship caregivers. Generations United has released a publication acknowledging these difficulties and offering some assistance in specific areas (e.g. legal, physical/mental health, housing, and education) that grandfamilies (grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. who are raising relative children) are typically faced with.

 

This publication will assist providers to be well-informed of ways to combat the challenges faced by kinship families and to improve the quality of life for children.  To learn more about this publication or to read the full text, visit:

http://www.gu.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=QVMe4AInpOg%3D&tabid=157&mid=606 

 


Training Resources -

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: Legal and Policy  

 

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: Legal and Policy Challenges is a three session, video based program that is designed as a presentation for grandparents who are raising grandchildren, relatives who are raising relative children, professionals that work with these families, and any other interested community member. The three sessions have been divided into the following areas:

  • Session 1: Legal Challenges and Individual Perspectives:               
    • Participants will identify legal challenges that grandparents and other relatives face and will explore various perspectives of relatives and professionals who have a role in raising children
  • Session 2: Informal and Formal Care Arrangements:
    • Participants will learn about formal and informal care arrangements, learn about responses to legal challenges in other states, and identify responses that have taken place in their own state
  • Session 3: Programs, Policies, and Alternative Responses
    • Participants will learn about model programs/policies that have been developed in Colorado, Ohio, and Washington. They will identify gaps in programs/policies that exist in their own state and begin to brainstorm a plan for addressing the identified challenge.

Along with each of the sessions, a video segment is included to provide further information.

If you would like to see an overview of the program and/or an order form, access the following website: http://www.extension.purdue.edu/cfs/programs/grandparents/index.htm

  

 

Parenting The Second Time Around

 

Parenting the Second Time Around is a workshop series designed by the Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) for grandparents, relative caregivers, or other individuals who are parenting for a second time. This curriculum is designed for experienced Workshop Leaders, Professionals, Social Workers or Adult Educators. The Manual contains outlines for eight workshops, which are broken down into two-hour time frames. Topics for the workshops include:

  • Child Development
  • Discipline and Guidance
  • Caring for yourself as a caregiver
  • Rebuilding a family
  • Living with teens
  • Legal Issues
  • Advocacy  

To learn more about this training or to get your own copy, e-mail resctr@cornell.edu or visit their website:http://www.human.cornell.edu/pam/outreach/parenting/programs/parentingasecondtimearound.cfm 

  

If you have a training you would like to have added to our newsletter please send us an e-mail at kinship@msu.edu.
SAVE THE DATE!!

Are you a professional or a support group leader working with kinship families? If you are, then keep reading...you won't want to miss this opportunity...

As part of a pilot project funded by the Michigan Children's Trust Fund, the Kinship Care Resource Center will be sponsoring four meetings of a statewide coalition. This effort will focus on bringing providers of service and support group leaders together to assess the current issues facing kinship families and providers and determine if there are particular activities that can be undertaken in short time-frames to improve the lives of the families who are raising relative children.

This first meeting will be held from 1p.m. to 4p.m. on January 31, 2013 and will be a networking opportunity, giving everyone the opportunity to hear from others around the state on what is happening in the lives of the families we serve and for us as a group to identify trends. Agendas for future meetings will be determined at this first gathering.

Because the meeting is at the end of January (when travel is not the best) we will have call-in capabilities set up for up to 25 callers as well as the opportunity for those willing and able to travel to meet face-to-face in East Lansing at MSU. If you are in an urban area and plan to attend via phone, please consider hosting a group so that more people are able to participate in the call.

The following registration survey will provide us with some helpful key information. Please feel free to share this registration link with others who might be interested. Please remember that if you do a group conference call-in we would still like everyone to register so that we have an accurate record of who participated.

Register here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/013113meeting

Publications-

GrandFacts: Data, Interpretation, and Implications For Caregivers

 

Generations United has released a publication that provides data, interpretation, and implications for caregivers of "skipped generation grandfamilies". This term refers to grandparents who are raising grandchildren with no parental involvement. The purpose of this report was to provide information and implications to caregivers, service providers, or other advocates working on the behalf of children in kinship settings. It provides interpretation of data, as well as implications for policymakers and agencies that provide services to these individuals and families. While this report focuses on skipped generation grandfamilies (i.e. grandparents raising grandchildren), the implications and interpretations are congruent with the needs and challenges that all kinship caregivers face, not only grandparent caregivers. The report is broken down into four sections: Demographic Data, Disability and Health Status, Housing Challenges and Resources, and Education Challenges and Resources for skipped generation grandfamilies.

 

To learn more about this publication, or to read the full report, visit: http://www.brookdalefoundation.org/RAPP/GrandFacts%20Data%20Interpretation%20and%20Implications%20for%20Caregivers.pdf

 

Pass on to Families -

Triangulation

 

As service providers and professionals working with kinship families, it is not uncommon to see families who exhibit unhealthy communication skills with other family members. One form that unhealthy communication between family members is known as triangulation. Triangulation can occur when one family member does not communicate directly with another family member. Instead, they communicate through a third family member, which can lead to the third individual becoming part of the triangle. In this article, the author explains why this concept of triangulation is important in kinship families and how it should be approached in order to create a more healthy way for families to communicate.

 

The author, Elaine Williams, explains the concept of triangulation using the example of a grandparent who is raising a grandchild. In the example, the grandparent sets a bedtime for the grandchild, but the parent tells the child differently, allowing them to stay up as long as they want. This is an example of how triangulation is an unhealthy communication style that puts the child in the middle, which can have negative consequences for the child.

 

Preventing triangulation is also discussed. The author explains that the only way to stop triangulation is to take the child (or third person) out of the triangle. Doing this develops strong boundaries as well as challenges the irresponsible behaviors. Elaine Williams also provides suggested actions that grandparents (or other kinship caregivers) can take in order to prevent triangulation.

 

As providers and other professionals working with kinship families, this concept of triangulation is important because it often occurs within the families that we work with. It is important to understand this form of communication as well as understand how it negatively affects the children that are often put in the middle of their parent(s) and caregiver(s). Additionally, it is crucial for providers to be aware of what can be done in order to change this way of communicating in the kinship families that we work with. This is an excellent article to pass on to families or caregivers that may be experiencing this unhealthy form of communication because it offers ways in which individuals can work to change this way of communicating.

 

To learn more about triangulation or to read the full article, visit: http://e2.ma/message/6n0bh/y1pe0d

  

 

Financial Resources

 

Arguably one of the most common struggles or challenges that kinship caregivers encounter when raising a child is the lack of financial resources in addition to the increase of financial stress that can exist when raising a child. Providers working with kinship families need to be aware of the programs and services that exist in their community that can help to alleviate some of the financial stress that is placed on kinship families. The Child Welfare League of America has produced a list of financial resources that acts as a reference guide for kinship families. This list provides information about each financial resource as well as information about eligibility requirements and how to apply.

 

This resource will help service providers be aware of eligibility requirements and the process of applying for different programs, which can reduce the difficulty for families trying to navigate programs. This list of financial resources is a helpful tool for service providers to pass on to families as it may increase families' knowledge of the services that are available to them.

 

To learn more about the list of financial resources that the CWLA has comprised, visit: http://www.cwla.org/programs/kinship/financial.htm

 
And the Research Says -  

 

With the over-representation of African American children in both the child welfare system as well as kinship placements, the need to understand the relationship between race in the kinship setting as well as how these things impacts the experience of loss in children is increasingly more important. Anne E. Schwartz published a study in 2010 that focuses on these issues. Her study seeks to look at the degree in which kinship placements act as a buffer against loss for young children in foster care placements.

 

The report noted the following about African American children in foster care:

  • Children of color comprise nearly 60% of those residing in foster care
  • African American children are 2.4 times more likely to be placed in foster care than they are in the national child population
  • Currently, African American children comprise the second largest percentage of any racial-ethnic group in foster care (31%)
  • African American children make up 30% of those awaiting adoption.

 

The report explained the relationship between kinship placements and the loss that the children experienced:

  • Many children placed in kinship care were already living with their caregiver prior to the formal placement
  • 17% of children placed with kin in Chicago did not move when first formally placed and another 10% only moved within one-half mile of their previous home
  • 18% of Chicago kin placements are non-removals, where children did not experience physical removal but only a change in custodial arrangement
  • Children placed with relatives average fewer placements than those in non-kinship care
  • Children in kinship care are also more likely to remain in their first placement, and once they leave care, they exhibit lower reentry rate

 

The study focused on African American adolescents between the ages of 11 and 14, from both kinship and non-kinship placements. The study noted the following:

  • In general, participants in kinship placements exhibited greater continuity in their placement histories than did those in non-kinship placements
  • Those in kinship care saw more of their mothers in their current placement than did those in non-kinship care.
  • Eight non-kinship participants saw less of friends they had had prior to entering care; six no longer saw these friends at all. In contrast, only three kinship participants now saw less of friends than while living with their birth parents, and only one no longer saw old friends at all.
  • For most participants, being in foster care had little impact on their relationship with their birth father because they either had never had a relationship with their father or a very tenuous one
  • Participants in kinship placements experienced fewer average disruptions than those in non-kinship placements as well as fewer average perceived losses.

 

The main point that was made through this study remains that African American children make up the majority of children in kinship care setting. Because of this over-representation of African American children, polices, practice, and research in kinship care have a direct impact on these families. This fact needs to be taken into consideration when policies and practice techniques are created.

 

As professionals working work and providing services to individuals and families in the child welfare system as well as in kinship settings, this information is particularly important to be cognizant of and can enhance the services that we provide to clients. For example, the study noted that African American children in kinship settings experienced fewer average disruptions as well as fewer average perceived losses. Being aware of this information can be helpful for professionals when creating support groups and developing themes and topics for discussion. If a professional is knowledgeable about the trends in the loss experienced by African Americans in foster care and kinship settings, they can guide their support groups and other services offered to address the needs that these individuals and families have. It enables them to provide more effective services to families and individuals.

 

If you would like to read the article itself you should be able to locate it within a University library, or with the assistance of your local librarian with the following reference:

 

Schwartz, A. E. (2010). "Nobody knows me no more": Experiences of loss among african american adolescents in kinship and non-kinship foster care placements. Race and Social Problems, 2(1), 31-49. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12552-010-9025-z

   


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