National Kinship Care Month: Kin First
According to The Children’s Bureau, there are over 407,000 children and youth in foster care, and 34 percent were placed with relatives or kin. This is why, A Second Chance, Inc. strives to be the nation’s foremost thought leader on kinship care and premier provider of the highest-quality kinship care services to the triad; to give all youth the opportunity to grow into responsible adults, and realize a world where abuse and addiction cycles are broken.
September is National Kinship Care Month and it is our duty to ensure that our families are not going unnoticed. Kinship care is full-time care. Caregivers — grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, adult siblings, and even family friends — who make the selfless choice to take on traditional parenting responsibilities when biological parents cannot.
As mentioned in a past blog, whether formally or informally, grandparents are, through their unconditional kinship, the backbone of our system’s efforts to keep children safe. Kinship represents the eternal value of family in keeping children safe, whole and thriving, and each pillar of the kinship triad (kinship caregiver, birth family and child) has their own story to tell.
A grandparent who believes in the power of kinship care stepped up to create a safe and nurturing environment for his granddaughter. Alex Collier, former ASCI Transportation Case Aide (TCA), and kinship caregiver shares his experience from kinship caregiver to an adoptive parent.
“Kinship care is important to me because it keeps children with their families. For me knowing what youth go through from my experience as a TCA not stepping up as a grandparent when given the opportunity was not an option for me. I wouldn’t be able to get sleep at night knowing that I was willing and able to care for my granddaughter and I didn’t do it. I believe that in other circumstances this could be different for other individuals.”
Each kinship story is unique, Collier reflects on his own story sharing, “When my son asked me to care for my granddaughter, I said yeah, because my older son’s child was in the same situation, but they got themselves together and now they’re doing well. I thought my other son would do the same thing and that didn’t happen. So, I had to step up and take care of her. Caring for my granddaughter went from what I thought would be a month or two, to being three years.”
Looking back on his caregiver journey, Collier advises others who may be taking in a child in need of placement to, “prepare yourself by asking all the questions, then ask your caseworker, all the necessary questions. The reality is that in some cases this is not an overnight thing. If this is what you are going to do, think of it as 18 years. You have to be serious about it.”