A newsletter of the
Kinship Care Resource Center (KCRC)
Thank you for supporting kinship care in Michigan by taking interest in our newsletter! We are finally getting some of that beautiful weather that spring promises-we hope you are too wherever you're located! 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.
As well as the seasonal changes, we have been changing here at the Kinship Care Resource Center as well. Our Case Coordinator, Bill Varoskovic, is moving on now that he has graduated with his MSW and we will miss him much. Luckily we know that he will carry the role of kinship care advocate into any future position he takes. Anna Ziegler, who has been an intern during this past year will be moving into the Case Coordinator position and hopefully we will have another intern join us. Lynn Nee, the Program Coordinator and Anna look forward to continuing to work to serve both kinship families as well as the many support group leaders and agency professionals who are so important for kinship family success.
Related to those support group leaders and agency professionals, 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 coming up May 29 and we have started an online community. If you are a support group leader or professional working with kinship families and are interested in joining us, please send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org with your information and we'll get you involved.
In addition to these new activities we are adding a section to this newsletter that will share information about state and federal legislative activities that either you or your families may be interested in. Check it out and let us know what you think!
Lastly, continue to visit our website as we make 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 email@example.com.
The Child Welfare League of America (CWLA), along with Essential Learning, is making it very easy for us to stay up-to-date with our knowledge, education, and training of children and adolescents, diagnosis and treatment, addictions, and mental health issues. Topics designed for child welfare, human service workers, clinicians, supervisors, and managers are provided through the CWLA's E-Learning courses. New courses are added each month. To learn more about CWLA's E-Learning courses, visit: http://www.cwla.org/consultation/elearning.htm or http://cwla.cequick.com/.
The ChildTrauma Academy offers two types of cased-based trainings-NMT and NME. These trainings are offered via the Internet. NMT (the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics) is a clinical case conference series that is comprised of a series of sessions that focuses on the neurodevelopmental principles they see in the children. NME (the Neurosequential Model in Education) is an educational series that focuses on future equipping educators and those working or caring for children with attention, learning and behavioral problems. To learn more about these online trainings, visit: http://childtrauma.org/index.php/training/live-online-training/
If you have an upcoming training related to kinship caregiving that is open to anyone please let us know!
Information Resources -
Hunger and Nutrition in America
The focus and emphasis that is put on hunger and nutrition in the U.S. is nothing new, but is something that affects thousands of people in America and continuously needs to be addressed. Generations United has released a report that focuses on hunger and nutrition in America and the affect it has on people across age groups. According to the report, almost 16.7 million children and about 4.5 million adults over the age of 60 are, at times, anxious about whether they will have enough food. These numbers are staggering and call for something to be done to lower these numbers. The research that was done for this report explain some of the barriers to accessing food assistance, including:.
- Income eligibility for programs,
- Exhausted food supplies,
- Hours of operation for food assistance services,
- Age restrictions for access to programs and services,
- Transportation to locations providing food assistance services, and
- Location of those services.
So, what can be done to address the issue of hunger and nutrition in America and decrease these extremely high numbers? The report from Generations United points to six recommendations, including:
- Protect and strengthen support for critical federal food programs for low-income children, youth, older adults, and families,
- Expand access to and availability of critical federal food programs,
- Increase income and access to supports for low-income families,
- Engage the business community,
- Support and promote approaches encouraging healthy and nutritious diets, and
- Promote coordination of food programs to better serve families.
To learn more about the research and report that Generations United has published or to learn more about what can be done to address this need, visit: http://www.gu.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=5VYHjMiKL9U%3d&tabid=157&mid=606
Read to Succeed
A child's ability to read is one of the most important skills they learn in the first few years of school. While this critical time in a child's development is known and recognized, there are still a staggering number of children who enter into kindergarten with limited reading skills and are behind their peers in this regard. There are numerous factors that can lead to this troubling number of children who enter into school with reading skills below where they need to be. As professionals working with kinship families, it is not uncommon for a number of children that you work with to experience this same difficulty. Additionally, a large portion of the children and families that you work with fall below the poverty level which increases the likelihood that the child will have trouble learning to read. According to Generations Incorporated's website, "children in low-income neighborhoods start Kindergarten 60% behind their more affluent peers". Generations Incorporated, along with The Bridgespan Group, has developed a plan to address the increase in illiteracy in children, entitled Read to Succeed. This plan focuses on children in kindergarten and first grade as well as refining literacy programs over the next 3.5 years.
The Read to Succeed plan focuses on four strategic priorities including:
- Redesign our literacy programs with a strong focus on Kindergarten and 1st Grade;
- Restructure program staffing to ensure better efficiencies;
- Retool financial systems to better facilitate program management and planning; and
- Invest in capacity to raise more unrestricted funds.
According to Generations Incorporated's website, the goal of Read to Succeed is to "have a replicable, sustainable program that can help thousands more kinds, while tapping into the talent and passions of a growing older adult population by 2016".
To learn more about Read to Succeed and their plans to address childhood illiteracy, visit: http://www.generationsinc.org/read-to-succeed/
The Middle School Years & the Nation's Dropout Crisis: You Can Help
The issue of what has been referred to as "the nation's dropout crisis" has been widely recognized and researched in order to find a solution that will diminish the problem. One of the ways in which the problem can be addressed is through focusing on the children's middle school years as a time for prevention of the children dropping out of school in the future. The National Human Services Assembly (NHSA) has focused their attention on this particular time in children's lives in their brief, Keeping Kids on Track in the Middle School Years: Investing in Out-Of-School Time Staff and Volunteer Competencies as a Dropout Prevention Strategy. It's well known that the middle school years can be difficult for children as they are trying to navigator through multiple changes and shifts in their physical, social, emotional, and educational lives. These years can be particularly tough for the children that we serve as professionals working with kinship families and teens. Events that trigger an individual to care for their relative child, such as a death or incarceration of a parent or the child being removed from the home are also some of the events that can occur that can start a teen to get off track when it comes to school.
The National Human Services Assembly points to Out-Of-School Time (OST) as being critical to keeping kids on track in middle school. Programs such as after-school, summer camp, mentoring, sports, youth development, scouts, and service learning are just a few examples of OST that the NHSA describes as activities that help keep kids on track. In addition to this, the NHSA puts a large emphasis on youth-serving agencies and adults, explaining the important role they have in ensuring students' success in school.
The brief provides three best practice techniques to ensure success in the middle school years that can help keep kids on track throughout their high school years and decrease the dropout rate. These best practices include:
- Train adults how to work effectively with youth in the middle school years;
- Align professional and volunteer development with quality improvement systems; and
- Develop OST managers' competencies.
As professionals working with middle school-aged children in kinship settings, it is important to remain cognizant of the life events that have taken place for each child and what affect the event may have on the child during their middle school and high school years. It is also important to recognize the importance of Out-Of-School Time for teens in the middle school years and continue to assist these children get involved in activities that promote and assist their academic success.
To learn more about the NHSA's brief or to read the full text, visit:
SB 237, 238, and 239 - Immunizations
Amends the Public Health Code, School Code and State School Aid ACt to state that a record of immunizations must be presented to school officials for any child entering the seventh grade being registered for the first time in a school in the state. (It used to be sixth grade).
HB 4659, 4660, 4661, and 4662
Responsible Father Registry and notices served to fathers in certain court proceedings
Amends the Public Health Code to create a Responsible Father Registry for a man who desires to be notified of a proceeding for adoption or termination of parental right regarding a child he may have fathered. Registration must happen within 48 hours after the child's birth. Does not affect parental rights if the father child relationship is established according to the paternity act. Failure to register waives a man's right to receive notice of court proceedings and is a denial of his interest in custody of the child, unless fraud by the birth mother was involved, leading the father to believe the baby did not live.
HB 4649 and 4650- Resource Families Bill of Rights.
Creates a bill of rights for foster, adoptive, and kinship families and requires the Children's Ombudsman's office to investigate violations.
You can read the full text of these bills and find out their status by visiting www.legislature.mi.gov.
Using a Trauma-Informed Lens
The vast majority of the kinship families and individuals that we work with have experienced some form of trauma. While the circumstances and level of severity may vary among each individual's experience, the importance of providing trauma-informed care remains. Focusing attention on the trauma that individuals may experience due to domestic violence, the Ohio Domestic Violence Network, in collaboration with the Ohio Department of Mental Health, has created a tool-kit and manual entitled, Trauma-Informed Care Protocols and Best Practices, which explains the concepts behind trauma-informed care when working with victims and survivors of domestic violence.
The manual attempts to educate and enhance the knowledge and practice techniques of agencies and advocates working with victims and survivors of domestic violence. It promotes the concept that traumatic events, such as domestic violence, not only are an event that happens to an individual but also have a lasting effect on the individual that may be unique to that particular person. Additionally, the manual lists some characteristics of trauma-informed services that professionals can model when working with clients, including:
- Focus on understanding the whole individual and context of his or her life experience;
- Designed to minimize the possibilities of victimization and re-victimization;
- Facilitates recovery;
- Facilitates growth, resilience, and healing;
- Focus on trust and safety
- Collaborate with non-traditional and expanded community supports (faith communities, friends and families, etc.); and
- Provide culturally competent and sensitive services.
To learn more about trauma-informed care or to read the full text of Trauma-Informed Care Protocols and Best Practices, visit:
|Pass on to Families -|
FREE Training Opportunities for Kinship Families
The MSU School of Social Work is providing a free series of trainings open to foster, adoptive, and kinship families covering topics such as helping children heal from sexual abuse and raising children with attachment issues, to name just a few. You can print off the full flyer of trainings and share them with your families at: http://socialwork.msu.edu/postadopt/documents/FosterParentTraining2013%20FINAL.pdf
These trainings fill up fast though so you won't want to wait!
The President's Budget: How Will it Affect Me?
The President has released his 2014 Budget that contains proposals that will affect each person and group differently. This budget is very complex and can be hard for individuals to decipher what it will mean to them. The Office of Management and Budget has produced fact sheets that make it easier to see how the different age groups may be affected by the President's 2014 Budget.
The Budget has proposals that aim to strengthen the economy for seniors. According to the fact sheet produced by the Office of Management and Budget, some of the things the 2014 Budget will accomplish for seniors are:
- Improve Medicare's Sustainability by Encouraging High-Quality, Efficient Care;
- Lower Drug Costs for Medicare Beneficiaries and Maintains Access to Physician Care;
- Protect Social Security for Future Generations;
- Provide Targeted Energy Assistance to Low-Income Households;
- Strengthen Programs that Engage Seniors;
- Help Seniors Maintain Their Health and Independence; and
- Protect Worker Pensions.
To learn more about the President's 2014 Budget and what affect it will have on seniors, visit: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/factsheet/strengthening-the-economy-for-seniors
The 2014 Budget also contains proposals that aim to support children and youth. According to the fact sheet produced by the Office of Management and budget, some of the things the 2014 Budget will accomplish for children and youth include:
- Increase Access to High-Quality Early Childhood Education;
- Make Tax Cuts Permanent for Working Families;
- Prevent Hunger;
- Sustain Investment While Ramping up Innovations in Grades K-12;
- Help Youth Build Skills for Employment;
- Expand Mental Health Treatment for Youth and Families; and
- Promote Better Outcomes for Disconnected Youth.
Finding Resources and Services
There are so many requirements of kinship caregivers in regards to caring for the children in their care on top of their everyday to-do list that make it really difficult for caregivers to sift through all of the programs and resources that they may be familiar with. In addition to this, there are also programs and resources that exist they are not aware of. Trying to learn about all of these programs and work through all of the red-tape that goes along with applying for them can be extremely overwhelming for a caregiver that already has their plate full of tasks that need to be accomplished. The AARP offers a place for caregivers to find all of this information in one stop.
Getting Kids Involved in Spring Cleaning
It's that time of year again-Spring is here and the weather is finally getting nice. It's the perfect time to knock out some of that spring-cleaning! Organized Home has five tips for getting kids involved in the spring-cleaning process. Check out the tips by visiting: http://organizedhome.com/seasonal-spin/five-tips-spring-cleaning-with-kids
And the Research Says -
Kinship Care and Infant Health
While there's still a long way to go, the concept of kinship care is slowing become more acknowledged and discussed. Research has been conducted and the discussions have begun in order to try to understand the dynamics and affects of kinship caregiving on both the child as well as the caregiver. Gennaro, York, & Dunphy (1998) have conducted and published research that looks at the relationship between kinship caregiving settings and the child's health.
The main points to be taken away from the research that Gennaro, York, & Dunphy conducted include:
- Kinship Care helps to provide an alternative to an overburdened foster care system;
- It not only provides protection for children but also allows some form of family structure to exist;
- However, states are usually less involved in monitoring the quality of kinship care;
- Children in kinship care are most likely to be poor and live with a grandparent;
- Children in kinship care have health problems including inadequate health maintenance;
- Children in kinship care often are not adequately immunized;
- Children both in foster care and kinship care are high risk groups in terms of having multiple health problems; and
- There are greater numbers of developmental and mental health problems in children in kinship care than in children in foster care.
So, as professionals working with kinship families, what does this mean for us? At the most basic level, this research points to specific aspects of kinship care that we need to remain cognizant of. Specifically, having the knowledge that children in kinship care are most likely to be poor and have health problems helps us to be better prepared to assist our clients by what services to connect them with as well as being prepared to help them through the process of obtaining and accessing the services. On a wider level, this research points to specific areas of kinship care that we can advocate for change and awareness on behalf of our clients. Access and assistance in obtaining access to services for kinship children and caregivers regarding financial or medical issues, promoting the importance of immunizing infants and children, education regarding the importance of medical care for children, and education on the services and resources available to kinship families are just a few of the ways in which this research can be utilized in the work that we do with kinship families.
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:
Gennaro, S., York, R., & Dunphy, P. (1998). Vulnerable infants: Kinship care and health. Pediatric Nursing, 24(2), 119-25. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.msu.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/199443125?accountid=12598
Kinship Care Resource Center