As a result of the publication of the book, A Kinship Guide to Rescuing Children for Grandparents and Other Relatives As Parents, I have had the opportunity to speak with a variety of groups. The audiences vary from professionals who work with kinship families, to kinship families themselves, to general bookstore visitors.
Kinship care is multicultural and as traditional for as long as we have walked the earth together. Perhaps that is why our society has an apathetic attitude about kinship care. Yet today’s caregivers, millions of them, are faced with extreme difficulties in their effort to secure the children.
The best way to strengthen families and thereby strengthen communities is to establish Kinship Care Resource Centers (KCRC) in accessible geographic areas. These Resource Centers can be satellites of a larger central group such as a University Extension Department, an aging service, Social Service Agencey, or a family oriented organization such as a YMCA. The KCRC should have just a few critical ingredients – someone who is accessible to families (a paid coordinator who knows the issues and who knows the community) and a structure that will ensure the life of the center in the long term as families grow up and new families come in.
The third section of A Kinship Guide is like a book within a book - step by step ways to establish a Comprehensive Kinship Care Resource Center in the local community, activities that strengthen the Center’s service to families and ways to secure the service in communities.
Kids Central, Inc in Ocala, Florida serves children in many ways from placement services for child maltreatment to age-out services to those young people who age out of foster care but still need a launching transition to their adult life. One impressive area of Kids Central, Inc is the significant outreach to kinship families. In a recent phone call, one staffer told me they just established five more kinship groups in the rural areas. The groups start with an eight week curriculum called Second Time Around that covers many of the basic concerns facing new kinship families. The groups also meet together for support and to break that sense of feeling alone in the task. Families in the groups have a strong link to the kinship care specialist in Ocala for specific needs. Kids Central, Inc is a great model for community support of kinship families. For more information check online www.kiscentralinc.org