Department of Family Services - Children and Families

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Monday - Friday 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

TTY 711

12011 Government Center Parkway, Pennino Building
Fairfax, VA 22035

Oriane Eriksen,

Kinship Family Institute (KFI)

Kinship Family Institute graphic logo

Are you raising a child for a family member or friend? If you answered “yes,” you are a kinship caregiver. The Kinship Family Institute (KFI) connects kinship families to supportive services and offers seminars, trainings, and workshops to help build a community network of kinship caregivers.

Kinship Café

Kinship Cafe graphic logoANNOUNCEMENT: We have temporarily moved to an online format. For more information or to participate virtually please contact Mary Elizabeth Fleming by email or call 571-595-4937

Dinner and discussion for kinship caregivers. Free dinner will be provided for the entire family. There will be separate activities and games for children of all ages.

Mott Community Center, 12111 Braddock Road, Fairfax, VA 22030.

2nd Wednesday of the Month
6-8 p.m.
Pick One or Attend All Events

April 15 - CANCELED
Your Story: share your kinship journey and learn from others

May 13
Children, Teens and Screens: Proactive Approaches for Healthy Technology Use

June 10
Understanding and addressing the impact of childhood trauma at home and at school

Please register online or call 703-246-4653 at least one week in advance.

Kinship Connections

Kinship Connections

There is nothing scheduled at this time. Please check back in the future.

Support Group for Kinship Caregivers

Learn more about the support group and meeting dates.


The KFI assists kinship families who need a connection to services, such as child care, education, health care, and financial help, and are seeking support from professionals or peers. The KFI also provides seminars, trainings, and workshops focused on kinship families’ needs, as well as support groups for these families. Trainings vary, from strengthening caregivers’ parenting skills and communication skills to relationship building, conflict resolution, self-care, and managing stress. Kinship caregivers are connected with other families like their own through support groups and Kinship Cafes, where they can share the experiences, joys, and challenges that make up kinship care with people who understand their perspective. The KFI does not provide case management services and is not able to provide direct financial assistance to kinship caregivers.

Call us at 703-246-4KIN or 703-246-4546; TTY 711.

  • Kinship Navigation – The KFI offers a helpline for kinship caregivers and social service providers in the community. A caregiver who calls 703-246-4KIN (4546) can talk to a kinship navigator to receive connections to services and resources and feel supported about their kinship situations. Social service providers can also call this line when in need of resources for kinship families. This helpline is typically open Monday through Friday 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Please leave a voicemail if the line is not immediately answered. A kinship navigator will return your call within two business days.
  • Training and Support Groups – The KFI will provide in-house trainings on various topics relevant to kinship caregivers. The KFI will also connect kinship caregivers with their peers through support groups and Kinship Cafes, or nights of dinner and discussion among caregivers. For information on upcoming trainings and support groups, please email If the KFI is not offering a topic, then connections to other providers will be made. Upon request, the KFI is also willing to provide consultation.
  • Respite and Legal Services may be offered in the future, as the KFI joins forces with community partners.

Kinship families residing in Fairfax County or the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church who are in need of connections to services and supports are eligible for KFI services.

All concerns about abuse and neglect will continue to be screened by the CPS Hotline at 703-324-7400.

Volunteer with the Kinship Family Institute

The Kinship Cafés and support group meetings are free to participants, and child care and dinner are provided. Community volunteers offer support for kinship families through:

  • Providing child care at meetings.
  • Facilitating activities and games for children.

If you love working with children and would like to volunteer, this might be a good opportunity for you. Learn more.

When children must be separated from their parents, placing them with other family members, or close family friends, is often an ideal solution to the situation. But often the adults in these newly created families, known as kinship families, did not expect to become caregivers.

The responsibility of raising another’s child often comes suddenly and caregivers may not always be prepared. Caregivers may feel overwhelmed and alone.

With more than 5,000 kinship caregivers in Fairfax County, the Kinship Family Institute (KFI) offers services to kinship caregivers having trouble finding assistance for their unique needs and who may need help navigating the county’s service system. The KFI seeks to connect kinship families and form a network of kinship caregivers who can support each other and their changing families.

Advisory Board

Sarah Allen, Neighborhood and Community Services
Nanette Bowler, Co-Chair Dept. of Family Services
Kirsten Buchner, Fairfax County Public Schools, (alternate)
Nancy Coffey, DFS/Kinship Family Institute
Cathy Cooper, DFS/Family Engagement Program
Darcy Cunningham, Co-Chair, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA)
Alison DeCourcey, United Community Ministries
Oriane Eriksen, DFS/Children Youth and Families
Mary Elizabeth Fleming, DFS/Kinship Family Institute
Melanie Crosby Hardy, Fairfax County Public Schools
Laura Harris, Advocate
Kelly Henderson, Formed Families Forward
Jaia Lent, Generations United
Germaine M. Buck Louis, George Mason University
Nora Mahoney, Legal Services of Northern VA
Sylvia Martin, Kinship Caregiver
E. W. Marshall-Washington, Cornerstones (alternate)
Trina Mayhan-Webb, DFS Area Agency on Aging
Louella Meachem, Community Services Board
Joaquin Perez, Improving Outcomes (alternate)
Annette Phillips, DFS/Kinship Family Institute
Alan Schuman, ASSB Chair
Sarah Smalls, Formed Families Forward
Darrian Summerville, City Servants Church, Pastor
Cathy Tompkins, George Mason University, KFI Contractor
Cheryl Wietz, Improving Outcomes
Kerrie Wilson, Cornerstones
Stephanie Wood, DFS Self-Sufficiency

2018 Kinship Symposium - Strengthening Child Welfare to Empower Kin Connections and Engage Male Relatives
Fairfax Virtual Assistant