What are the joys and challenges of being a kin caregiver?
Being a kin caregiver is a rewarding experience. It comes with its highs and lows, like everything else in life. It’s a blessing being able to care for a child in need, regardless of relations. In our case, from being parents of five wonderful, and thank God, successful and healthy children. As first-time foster parents, we are caring for our great-nephew, a very smart, energetic, curious, funny, sweet, and loving toddler.
Without a doubt, we were ready to take on this journey, to provide a safe, loving, and nurturing home for him. He has brought us so much more joy, laughter, and a sense of fulfillment in all of our lives. Knowing that we were able to lend a helping hand when it was needed, enlightened our hearts. Having a large network of family, friends and resources along the way has helped the process to go a bit smoother.
Starting over with a toddler (considering that our children are ages 10 to 25 years old), was a total shift in life. The most challenging part was going through the paperwork, proving and providing for our own before being approved as worthy foster parents. Reorganizing our lifestyle to fit the needs of a toddler is also challenging, but we have achieved a sense of comfort that benefits us all. We also created stability, routines, and memories along the way.
Some days are better than others, and that’s the sacrifice we were willing to make. We are happy with the way things are unfolding and can’t wait to see what the world has in store for him and all he has to offer.
What do you want the community to know about what it is like to be a kin caregiver?
We would like the community to know that being a kin caregiver is a heart-filling experience. There are many children in need of a stable home, structure, love, affection, assurance, role models and worthiness. Being in the care of family members gives the child/children a sense of belonging and eases the stress of not seeing family members. The community support, like being inclusive and welcoming can also have a positive impact on the child.
Being a kin caregiver can also be disruptive to already established family routines and even relationships. When making this important life changing decision, make sure all parties within the family understand the goals, reasons and all sacrifices that go with it. Routine family meetings just to touch base on new life adjustments are needed to accommodate each member new lifestyle before it gets too stressful.
What services do you feel are needed?
There are endless services and resources available for kin caregivers, such as medical, educational, childcare, parenting assistance, financial assistance, counseling, etc. Our family has a large network of support like social workers, resource specialists, and many other ways to gain services. When need be, we will utilize these services accordingly. Family and friends along with the community are all great resources and support when needed.