Department of Family Services – Children, Youth and Families

CONTACT INFORMATION: Monday–Friday 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
703-324-7500 TTY 711
12011 Government Center Parkway, Pennino Building
Fairfax, VA 22035
Oriane Eriksen

September is Kinship Care Awareness Month

September is Kinship Care Awareness Month: Keeping Children Connected to Family

Nearly three million children in the United States, nearly 70,000 children in Virginia, and nearly 4,000 children in Fairfax County, are being raised in kinship care by grandparents, relatives, or close family friends when their parents are unable to do so.

When children must be separated from their parents, kinship care provides children with the opportunity to grow and learn in a supportive, loving, safe home environment while retaining a sense of family, cultural heritage, and community ties.

Fairfax County recognizes the importance of kinship caregivers. In keeping with The Family First Prevention Services Act, we are committed to making sure that children who are separated from their parents and enter foster care are placed in family-like settings (kinship care, foster care).

Fairfax County partners with public and private organizations to prioritize a kin-first culture where children are raised within their families whenever possible. We celebrate kinship families for their strengths and expertise and help to connect kinship families with evidence-based, trauma-informed services, resources, trainings and supports focused on kinship families’ needs. Learn more about these services.

2020 American Community Survey indicates that over 3082 grandparents in Fairfax responsible for raising children

Kinship Caregiver Stories

adult with child hugging outsideWe asked some of our kinship caregivers to share with us about their experiences caring for the children of relatives. These families open up about how full their hearts are, how rewarding it is to see the children growing, thriving, and responding to their love and support, and the unexpected benefits of drawing extended family closer together in the process of providing support. Families also share about adapting to being a primary caregiver later in life, the challenge of finding child care and the need for so much flexibility. Learn more about why kinship caregiving is an experience like no other.

New Fairfax Kinship Support Groups – Encouragement for Caregivers

older man and woman cooking with childAre you raising a child for a family member or friend? Join other kinship caregivers to discuss your experiences, concerns, and frustrations with your peers. This group offers a network to share resources and information among the group members, reducing feelings of isolation, and celebrating family successes in maintaining permanency for and the ongoing commitment to building strong families. Formed Families Forward is offering the free Fairfax Kinship Support Groups in partnership with the Department of Family Services. 

In-person groups will be held at Fairfax County Community Centers with the support of Neighborhood and Community Services on the third Thursday of each month. Virtual Groups will be offered on the first Thursday of each month via Zoom. Register online.

Kinship Resources

Learn more about Department of Family Services' Kinship.

Formed Families Forward
Our partners have compiled a variety of resources that can help kinship caregivers with navigating the basics of kinship care, working with the schools, custody, adoption and other issues.

Kinship Care
Resources and information from the Child Welfare Information Gateway about kinship care in the United States and its impact in the lives of children. 

Partnering With Relatives to Promote Reunification
Relative caregivers may face certain challenges when caring for a family member's children. This factsheet shares stories and advice from caregivers and birth parents who have experienced kinship care and many lessons learned. 

Kinship Care: Exploring Options for Relatives of Children in Foster Care
This guide can help family members understand what options they may have when a relative child is not able to stay in their home of origin.

Fairfax Virtual Assistant