Kinship Families Coalition of Kentucky: Recognizing the continuing importance of nurturing kinship

It is important to continue to raise the voices of relatives and fictional relatives to ensure that the children in their care have every opportunity to grow into successful and prosperous Kentucky citizens even as Kinship Care Month draws to a close.

Kinship and fictional family caregivers continue to advocate for children in Kentucky to ensure they remain safely connected to relatives and close family friends when their birth parents are unable to safely care for them. An estimated 59,000 children in Kentucky are raised by relatives, most of whom are grandparents. Kentucky ranks second for the highest rate of children being raised by family caregivers.

What does this mean for our children and families?

Children in the care of relatives may have experienced trauma, parental imprisonment or loss and need support to ensure their success. Caregivers, who often unexpectedly take on responsibility for the children, also need support for a successful transition to their new role.

What supports are available to family members and notional family carers in Kentucky?

The Department for Community Based Services continues to build and improve access to support through available programs and their partnership with the Kentucky Kinship Resource Center at the University of Kentucky.

Last summer, DCBS and the University of Kentucky presented information about the services currently available. A recording of this presentation is available online.

The latest resources from the Kentucky Kinship Resource Center (KKRC) are below. The website contains information about the kinship programs in the KKRC section and can be another way for carers to find program information. Users have access to:

• The KY-KINS peer support program, where family members can register to participate or be referred to the program

• The KIN VIP Support Groups program where family carers can view the current calendar of virtually based support groups and join at any time

• The Kinship Catalog for information on LIVE webinars, online resources and interactive training modules.

Where Advocacy is Still Needed

As a kinship or fictitious kinship carer or supporter, you should consider your role in advocating for kinship children and families.

• Each year, the meeting with the Kentucky General Assembly is an opportunity to advocate for family members and notional family carers, whether it be additional financial assistance needed, ensuring the balance of rights between birth parents and family carers, or ensuring children live in foster care may have access to services similar to those of foster children. Learn more about becoming a lawyer.

• Judges help decide major life changes for family members and notional family members. Learn more about why it’s important for children and families to participate in judicial elections and other electoral advocacy.

• The opioid epidemic is a major reason for children living with relatives and close family friends. Now is the time to raise the voices of family carers to the decision-makers who are deploying investments to fight the epidemic. The Kentucky Opioid Abatement Advisory Commission was established to oversee Kentucky’s share of the opioid abatement funds, which we believe must be dedicated to supporting affected children, and to make upstream efforts to prevent opioid use and alleviate childhood trauma. The commission will hold ward council meetings through November 29 in the following locations: Pikeville, Ashland, Hazard, Covington, Lexington, Louisville, Bowling Green and Paducah. Participants will learn more about the Opioid Settlement Funds and have the opportunity to make public comments. Find out more details and schedule a visit to a town hall near you.

Learn more about the Kinship Families Coalition of Kentucky and other resources at kinshipky.org.

Kentucky Youth Advocates

About Ellen Lewandowski

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