A newsletter of the 
Kinship Care Resource Center (KCRC) 
March 1, 2013 

Thank you for supporting kinship care in Michigan by taking interest in our newsletter! Hang in there-- the freezing cold winter months are almost over and spring is right around the corner! With every changing season or time of year, there are new challenges that kinship caregivers are faced with. As always, at the Kinship Care Resource Center, we aim to continue to provide support for the physical, emotional, cultural, and social well-being of those that we work with.


At the end of January we started our first statewide effort to bring together professionals and support group leaders working with kinship caregivers. Our next meeting will be at the end of March and we have started an online community. If you are interested in joining us, please send us an e-mail with your information and we'll get you involved.


Lastly, continue to visit our website and look for us to be making some new and exciting changes in the next few months.




 - 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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Training Opportunities
Click on the image to download the conference book!
Don't miss the Michigan Association for Foster, Adoptive, and Kinship Parents' 2013 Conference, April 25-27 in Lansing, MI.
The Kinship Care Resource Center is excited to announce this great training opportunity for kinship caregivers. Every year this conference combines great workshops and presenters with wonderful caregivers to create the perfect learning and support environment. Kinship caregivers do not need to be involved with the child welfare system to benefit from this tremendous learning opportunity. To learn more about the conference and about MAFAK visit their website at www.mafak.co (no "m" at the end).

The Ties That Bind: Training for Caregivers


The Children of Alcoholics Foundation has created a training curriculum for caregivers focusing on parental substance abuse and the impact it has on kinship families. This outline utilizes lecture, small group discussion, and activities designed o be facilitated by a professional with a group of kinship caregivers in a support group setting or independently.


  • Teaching participants basic information about alcohol and other drug addiction
  • Promoting discussion of substance abuse related issues with children
  • Providing strategies to cope with the behavioral and emotional issues children in kinship care may present
  • Helping caregivers be supportive of parent/child relationships
  • Encouraging utilization of available support resources
  • Promoting improved relationships between caregivers and birthparents

The topics that will be covered in this curriculum include an overview of kinship care and parental substance abuse; introduction to alcohol, other drugs, and addiction; caregiver feelings; understanding and supporting the child; talking about substance abuse with children; caregiver relationships with birthparents; maintaining a safe home; supporting the parent-child relationship; and accessing support.


To learn more about the handbook, fact sheets, curriculum or training and consultation services, contact Kim Sumner-Mayer, Kinship Care Outreach Manager, at ksumner-mayer@phoenixhouse.org, call (646) 505-2063 or visit the Children Of Alcoholics Foundation's website at: www.coaf.org


Information Resources -

TANF and Child Welfare Programs: Increased Data Sharing Could Improve Access to Benefits and Services


TANF and other child welfare programs can be instrumental in providing children in kinship families with resources they need in order to maintain a quality life. Each of these programs is incredibly complex and can be very difficult for kinship families and individuals to obtain the necessary resources that are provided to them through these programs. It can be very challenging for a caregiver to work through these programs in order to receive the resources that are available to them. Because of these difficulties, many kinship caregivers simply give up and are left without receiving any of the benefits and resources that are available to them and the child in their care. Additionally, due to the complexity of the programs, some providers are not aware of the resources that are available to their clients, or are uneducated on the eligibility requirements, and therefore, are not able to provide assistance to caregivers when trying to obtain resources through these child welfare programs.


In order to combat this difficulty in working with the complex programs, the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released a report suggesting that an increase of data sharing between programs such as TANF and other child welfare programs would help to alleviate this difficulty and provide more resources to families. Increasing data sharing between child welfare programs would enable separate programs to communicate more efficiently, and would provide a better coordinated service to the clients.


This report highlights some of the steps that states have taken in attempt to better coordinate and communicate between programs, as well as some recommendations that would help in this endeavor. Some of the actions that have been taken by the states include:

  • Several states have initiated efforts to coordinate TANF and child welfare programs
  • About two-thirds of states reported that state TANF and child welfare staff meet periodically to work on common areas of concern
  • Some states have reported co-locating TANF and other programs in the same building as well as working together on case planning.
  • Thirty-two states reported that about half of their child welfare offices are located in the same building as TANF offices
  • North Carolina has combined TANF and child welfare units, providing an array of services in one location.

In addition to sharing information between TANF and other child welfare programs, the GOA has suggested that data sharing is another way to help caregivers access resources and services. The report highlights some of the benefits of data sharing between child welfare programs. Some of these benefits of data sharing include:

  • Data sharing would allow states to identify duplicate payments or information on whether a client is receiving child welfare services
  • Access to information in the information system would make it easier to confirm is a child has been removed from their parents and placed with a relative
  • Would allow for more accurate contact information which would help locate relative caregivers or parents

As the report from the GOA has explained, there are ways in which states can allow TANF and other child welfare programs to collaborate with the goal of becoming more effective in their providing services to caregivers. As providers working with kinship care families and individuals, being aware of these suggestions increases knowledge and in turn, can help in providing clients with more effective and helpful services. Providers need to be aware and well-educated on services that are provided to clients by the different programs in order to be effective in providing services, as well as to make informed decisions regarding appropriate services.


To read more about the GOA's report, visit: http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d122.pdf

New Census Shows More Children are Being Raised by Relatives


According to the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau, there are 4.9 million children(7 percent)under age 18 live in grandparent-headed households. That's up from 4.5 million living in grandparent-headed households 10 years ago. 1.9 million children are living in households headed by other relatives (2.5 percent of the children in the country). This number is up from 1.5 million in 2000. The AARP has included the statistics from the Census Bureau in order to point out that the number of children that are being raised by relatives is on the rise, while the supports and resources for these children and families remains limited. The article points out that there are multiple ways in which these individuals and families are facing limited resources. This is expressed in the areas of finance, education, health, housing, and work.


As providers and other professionals working with these families, keeping up to date on the Census information, and more importantly, the implications of these numbers, enables you to provide more effective and targeted services to your clients. For example, through using the Census Bureau information and statistics, we are aware of the large increase in the number of children who are being raised by relatives. Using this knowledge, we can assume that due to the increased number of kinship families, there will undoubtedly be more need for services and resources that can assist this growing number of individuals and families.


To read the full article, visit:http://www.aarp.org/relationships/grandparenting/info-12-2010/more_grandparents_raising_grandchildren.html. Additionally, information and statistics about these families can be found on the Census Bureau's webpage at: http://www.census.gov/.



Best Practice Manual for Service Providers Working with Kinship Caregivers


The Office of Services to the Aging has published a Best Practice Manual for service providers working with kinship caregivers in the state of Michigan. This manual is broken down into three sections-- Initial Strategies, Continuing Strategies, and Advanced Strategies --for working with kinship caregivers in the state of Michigan. Some of the best practices that are outlined in the manual include:

  • Materials must be presented to the kinship care household members in an environment that is free from criticism, blame and judgment,
  • Consider the physical abilities of kinship caregivers and make appropriate accommodations,
  • Host support groups at times most conducive to participant's schedules,
  • Empower kinship caregivers to engage in skill building activities, and
  • Host educational workshops for community organizations and individuals.

To view the Best Practice Manual, visit: http://www.michigan.gov/documents/miseniors/BestPracticeManual_208131_7.pdf



Relatives Raising Children: A Guide to Finding Help and Hope

 Marianne Takas, J.D. 166 pages, Third Edition 2005


Marianne Takas has taken her experience working on the behalf of children as an attorney, a youth worker, a parent and a foster parent and written a book based upon the things that relative caregivers (and professionals who have worked with them) have learned about raising children. Takas takes a strengths-based perspective in her writing, providing useful information, strategies, and ideas to help find linkages to other helpful agencies/resources. Part one of Takas' book, entitled Relatives Raising Children: A Guide to Finding Help and Hope, highlights the positive qualities that kinship caregivers possess (resiliency, resourcefulness, etc.). Part two addressed the sociocultural aspects of these qualities that caregivers possess. And lastly, part three provides strengths-based interventions for working with kinship caregivers.


You can find this publiation on The Brookdale Foundation's website www.brookdalefoundation.org under the heading Publications. One book is available to each organization. 

Kinship Caregivers Need Better Support Network


With an increasing number of children in kinship settings, the number of kinship caregivers is also on the rise. The need for strong support networks and support groups is becoming increasingly more important and necessary for these caregivers. Generations United has released a fact sheet that discusses the issue of caregiver support groups. The fact sheet discusses the importance of support groups as well as the different models, resources, and existing support networks that are available to kinship caregivers.


To view the fact sheet from Generations United, visit: http://www2.gu.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=Il0ZyPoEsTs%3d&tabid=157&mid=606


Pass on to Families -

Behavior Problems in Children & Relating to Substance Abuse


With the increasing prevalence of parental substance abuse being a factor in kinship settings, The Center on Addiction and the Family has provided information on how parental substance abuse may be linked to behavior problems in children. The article explains that a child that comes to a caregiver from a parent who has a substance abuse issue is faced with transition and may have some unresolved issues regarding the parental substance abuse. The article provides suggestions for caregivers on how to handle difficult behaviors in children when they first arrive in their care. The COAF also acknowledges that children's age and developmental stage is a factor in the kinds of behavior problems that caregivers may face, and provide information about each of the developmental stages.


This information is important for service providers and caregivers to be aware of when working with children who have come from a home where substance abuse is present. Kinship caregivers may experience behavior problems in the children they are caring for without realizing the behavior is linked to parental substance abuse. As service providers, helping caregivers understand the link between parental substance abuse and potential behavior problems in children enables the caregiver to understand the effect of substance abuse on the child. Once a caregiver becomes aware of this linkage, they are able to better understand the child in their care and will be better equipped to care for the child's needs.


To learn more about the link between behavior problems in children and parental substance abuse or to read the full text, visit: http://www.coaf.org/family/caregivers/behavprob.htm




Grandparenting With Love & Logic : Practical Solutions to Today's Grandparenting Challenges



Fay and Foster W Cline, M.D. have released a book entitled "Grandparenting With Love & Logic :Practical Solutions to Today's Grandparenting Challenges" that focuses on grandparents' relationship with both their adult children as well as helping raise their grandchildren. The book points out that more and more of today's grandparents are finding themselves in unique situations where their role as a grandparent has   changed.The authors developed this book in order to show grandparents how to develop positive relationships with both their adult children while helping raise their grandchildren.




Copies of Jim Fay and Foster W Cline, M.D.'s book can be purchased online at: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0944634540/ref=ase_inktomi-bkasin-20/103-9885809-1178207



And the Research Says -  

Effectively Addressing Mental Health Issues in Permanency-Focused Child Welfare Practice

The debate around mental health and treatment has been widely discussed and argued in the recent months. This debate is an important one for kinship families as well as the professionals that work with them. The need for improved mental health services as well as more easily accessed mental health services for children in kinship families is continuously increasing. For these families and children, it can be very difficult to access the mental health services and supports they need. Ornelas, Silverstein, & Tan (2007) released a study that focuses on this unrecognized need.

The research first points out the staggering demographics of children in the child welfare system that have the potential of needing services:

The AFCARS Report (2006) indicates that in September, 2005:

  • 513,000 children lived in foster care nationwide with a median age of 10.6 years.
  • 32% of these children were under six years of age.
  • 311,000 children entered foster care in that year while 287,000 exited.
  • The goal for 20% of these children was adoption; for 3%, guardianship was the permanent plan.
  • 114,000 children were in foster care awaiting adoption (identified as having parental rights terminated and less than 16 years of age).
  • Half of those children had been waiting 30 months or more for adoption.

*(Keep in mind that these statistics only account for children that exist within the child welfare system, there are thousands more that are facing the same needs but are not involved with the child welfare system)


The authors describe an agency in California that has created clinics in response to the need for specialized mental health services for children moving into a permanent situation such as adoption or guardianship. The agency, Kinship Center, is located in California and has created interventions that are based on family issues, focusing on strengths-based, multiservice, and culturally-competent aspects of the family. The Kinship Center's clinics are publically funded by EPSDT/Medicaid and require no funds from families or the government.

Research was conducted over six years focusing on the effectiveness of these clinics. The data found:

  • Children at the first clinic in Santa Ana, CA, "showed positive gains across a wide range of psychological and behavioral measures".
  • For the children who received an initial mental health diagnosis, the research shows that the diagnoses were related to anxiety, behavior, and disorders of infancy and early childhood.
  • For the children who exhibited initial signs of problems with attachment, a significant decrease occurred, indicating improvements in attachment over time.
  • After six months of treatment, a decrease was found in children who exhibited issues with functionality.
  • For the children who initially had a possible mild form of Attachment disorder, by the time of discharge, their scores fell short of that diagnosis.

The main point for professionals working with kinship families and children to take away from this research can be to simply realize the unique needs of kinship children and families for mental health services. It would be a disservice to the kinship children and families to simply release them once they are settled in a permanent situation such as guardianship or adoption without providing them with the mental health services they may need.


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:


Ornelas, L. A., Silverstein, D. N., & Tan, S. (2007). Effectively addressing mental health issues in permanency-focused child welfare practice. Child Welfare, 86(5), 93-112. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.msu.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/213807944?accountid=12598

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