When children must be separated from their parents, placing them with other family members is the ideal solution to the situation. But often these newly created families, known as kinship families, did not expect to become caregivers. There are more than 5,000 kinship caregivers in our county.
To provide the critical support needed, the county’s Department of Family Services launched the Kinship Family Institute earlier this year. The program provides services to support the entire kinship family, including the caregivers, children and biological parents.
“Kinship families are becoming more visible in our community, and have expressed a desire to have assistance on respite, support groups, training, financial assistance and legal advice,” Bowler says. “The mission of the Institute is to provide services to kinship families in order to strengthen and support these families through their challenging times.”
The Institute provides a full menu of support services, including:
- Kinship Care Support Group: Find out about community resources you may not have known exist. Talk with others who understand how difficult and joyful this responsibility can be. Child care may be provided.
- Kinship Navigation: This is a helpline for kinship caregivers and social service providers in the community. A caregiver who calls 703-246-4KIN (4546), TTY 711 can talk to a kinship navigator to receive connections to services and resources and get support for 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. to 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.
- Library of Kinship Quick Guides And Resources: The Institute provides this list of quick guides and resources to help you easily and quickly find the information you need.
“Feedback from kinship caregivers has told us that these services can make a big difference in the lives of these families,” said Bowler.
Get more information on the Kinship Family Institute or call 703-246-4KIN (4546), TTY 711.