Kinship Families: Keeping Kids Connected

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September 21 to 25 is Kinship Awareness Week, where Children’s Aid Societies celebrate and share about the important role that kinship families play in keeping Ontario’s children and youth safe and connected to their communities. Learn more about child welfare’s kinship models and their many benefits.

 

Kinship Families: Keeping Kids Connected What is kinship? Kinship Service and Kinship Care are child welfare placement options, like fostering, for the small number of children and outh who need to leave their families for sa ety reasons. Kinship is a living arrangement in which a relative, community member, or someone who has a connection to the child or their family can take primary responsibility to care for and raise the child. Kin is most often family with a biological connection, but it can also include a erson who is close to the child or their fami y, such as a godparent, friend, teacher, or neighbour. Did you know? on average 3,668 Ontario children and youth needing out of home placements were living with kinship families That means an average of of Ontario children and youth needing out of home placements were living with kinship families How does kinship work? Kinship Care In this model, children requiring protection come into the care of a Children's Aid Society and are placed with kin after they have followed the same assessment process and training as foster parents. The benefit is that families receive all the supports that foster families receive, such as per diems. The downside is that there are all kinds of formal regulations to follow that can feel intrusive to a family with a history of connection. Kinship Service In this model, children requiring protection are not brought into care, which gives child welfare more flexibility to look at whether this is a good placement for the child. The benefit is that it offers a new assessment process that is less intrusive and is not based on licensing standards that were set up for strangers taking care of a number of different kids. How is kinship improving child welfare? Kinship has many benefits. It reduces the stress associated with coming into care, as in many cases the child/youth already knows what it is like to be in their kin's home. Family and community relationships are preserved. The child/youth can maintain their cultural and religious ties. The One Vision One Voice Project to Better Serve African and Caribbean Canadians has made kinship a key recommendation in its Race Equity Practice Framework. It also addresses the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's call to reduce the number of Indigenous children in care by keeping Indigenous families together, where possible, and keeping children in culturally appropriate environments. Children cared for by kin are:** times less likely to have a mental health issue than foster children times more likely to report positive emotional health compared to foster children times less likely to experience three or more placements than foster children less likely to need mental health services than foster children • Source: 2018-19 Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services Quarterly Reports Source: The Commission to Promote Sustainable Child Welfare, •Strengthening Family Based Care in a Sustainable Child Welfare System. • Final Report and Recommendations, June 29, 2012. Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies