Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Kinship Groups use of A Kinship Guide to Rescuing Children

We have received some wonderful feedback regarding use of the book, A Kinship Guide to Rescuing Children for Grandparents and Other Relatives As Parents. The unique group use of the book has prompted us to develop a tip sheet of sorts on points to cover in various sessions. We will highlight these periodically in the blog and the newsletter on the website, www.chicagoroadpublishing.com . The newsletter, Kinship Care Notes, is published monthly online on the fourth page of the website.

Some things you should know about the book before you start using it in a group. A Kinship Guide focuses on helping families understand what they are up against outside the household – legal issues, social services, schools, medical, etc. There are some excellent in-the-home parenting books for special issues that kinship care providers face everyday. So many families were asking for some sort of guide to get through the maze of social services which is why we wrote the book with that focus.

Let’s imagine a group of kinship families wanting to get together just to talk things out and understand the problems facing them. Start with the logistics:
1. find a suitable place (a church, community center, coffee shop with a private room, senior center, ymca, someone’s living room)
2. get announcements out through local resources including posters and radio or access TV, local news sources – include time, place, and topic
3. bring snacks
4. child care is a tricky one – most groups begin with a friend of a friend or hire a teenager. I’m kind of picky on this one. For a casual initial gathering this may be okay. For get-togethers in a social service place such as a Senior Center or School, it may be necessary to hire a professional who is aware of the trauma many kinship children are experiencing. See page 173 of A Kinship Guide, the section is titled Quality Safe Child Care.
At the First Meeting
Get to know each other. Someone may be a facilitator to help with the initial sharing. Send a sign up sheet around for future contact – name, address, contact numbers including e-mail. The things a kinship group should know for future meetings also includes the topics the families are anxious to learn more about and the proportion of families that are volunteer kinship caregivers or placement caregivers. Some of the ways of dealing with public systems are affected by volunteer or placement.
Closing the First Meeting
The new kinship care group should be sure they have a contact sheet, suggestions on how to improve contact with other families (believe me, there are so many kinship care families in each community that really want to get together, but just don’t know how to begin – so many feel as if they are all alone in this daunting task). The group should also decide time, place for the next meeting and topic.
If groups are following the book (and for our next blog on this issue), I suggest Getting Organized is a great beginning. This is an interesting topic for groups. Someone could check the community for support for some items that everyone in the group to receive: a file folder, calendar, log book, and 3 x 5 cards. Stay tuned. We’ll have fun following A Kinship Guide to Rescuing Children with the next tips on Getting Organized.
In the meantime, thank you for all families and service providers for all you do for kinship care.

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