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Kinship Foster Care: What is it and How Can I Get Involved?

Kinship foster care is the placement of a foster child into a home where there is an adult relative or person with a significant relationship with the child. In some states, “kinship” is defined as being related by blood, such as a cousin, sibling, niece, nephew, grandchild, or other family member. In other states, you have kinship if you and the child have an existing relationship. This could mean being a friend of the family, church member, school-teacher, or day-care provider and does not require a blood relation.

At Centerstone, kinship foster care is a primary focus of our Therapeutic Foster Care program. Lynne Carter, Director of Centerstone’s Foster Care Select Program in Indiana, explains: “When you have a 13 year-old boy and his choices are to live with an affluent family, in a good neighborhood, where he would have his own bedroom or to live with his grandma, who lives in a small apartment and only makes enough to get by, where he sleeps on a futon or on the couch. Is he going to be more stable with someone he does not know or living with his grandma? He’s more than likely going to choose to live with his grandma because blood bonds and familial relationships are unbreakable.”

The number of children in need of loving foster families is growing exponentially, partially fueled by the ongoing opioid epidemic. Currently, there are more than 437,000 American children in foster care and many of these children have experienced trauma, abuse, or neglect. According to recent data published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics:

  1. Nearly 90% of young children entering the foster care system have physical health problems
  2. 55% have two or more chronic conditions
  3. A large number of children in foster care are in need of behavioral health assistance

For many of these children, kinship fostering could be the answer.  A stable home environment, like those found in kinship fostering placements, are proven to have positive effects on a child’s development and successes in their adult life.

Like other foster families, kinship foster caregivers can face challenges and do need support. Grandparents, for instance, might face health, wellness, or aging issues. They may need financial help for food and clothing, or health insurance. They may even need a break, especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic where many schools and educational programs have closed. Fortunately, with Centerstone’s Therapeutic Foster Care Program, we provide education, support, and therapeutic mental health services throughout the entire process.

Currently offered in Georgia, Indiana, and Tennessee, Centerstone’s Therapeutic Foster Care Program works with families to strengthen every aspect of each kid’s well-being — mental, physical, educational, social, and spiritual. If you’re interested in learning more about fostering or starting the licensing process, please visit www.centerstonefamilies.org or call us today at 1-877-HOPE123 (877-467-3123).

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