Becoming a Kinship Home

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Becoming a Kinship Home Answers to Questions About Working With Athens County Children Services

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First, We Would Like to Thank You! … for opening your home and heart to help us care for a child whom you know and care about. Foster care can be a difficult place for children to adjust; we know children handle separation much better when they live with people they know and love. So first, THANK YOU for stepping forward to learn about kinship care.

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What Can I Expect to Learn While Watching This Video? Answers to questions about the home study process. Feeling more prepared for the challenges ahead. Learning about the agency and the court system. Better understanding of what services are available to you and your family. While watching this video remember to write down any questions you may have so you may ask your worker.

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Why Am I Here? People are often asked to be a kinship placement after a child has been removed from the home of their parent or guardian. When Children Services is involved there are safety issues that created the need for removal  The child’s caseworker received your name from either the parent or another relative believing you might be interested in providing a safe home for this child.

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What Is A Kinship Family? A kinship family is a family who already has an existing relationship with a child through a blood tie or other relationship with the child and/or with the birth parent. For example, this could be a grandparent, aunt or uncle, cousin, adult sibling, family friend, neighbor, a teacher from school or a church friend.

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Why Am I Needed? You offer stability and safety to a child when they need it the most. You help carry on important connections to the child’s family. You serve as a bridge to the child and family as the child returns home. You may be able to provide a permanent home if the child is unable to return to his parents.

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What Does It Take to be a Successful Kinship Parent? Can adapt to change and work through a crisis Be able to ask for help Know your limits Be able to handle changes in family roles Can work as part of a team Have the ability to protect the child from harm Have a sense of humor!

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What Do I Have to Do to Become a Kinship Home? You must have adequate space for the child. Your home must pass basic safety standards for the age of the child. Kinship parents must not have any condition that would be harmful to the child. The kinship parents must have sufficient income to meet the needs of the family. Kinship parents must be willing to support the case plan goal and work with the agency.

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Any Other Requirements? There are other factors that the agency will look at when working on your home study and talking to you about kinship care: We need to know if you have the ability to meet the child’s emotional and physical needs. We will talk to you about your role in the child’s visitation with their parents. And we will talk to you about your ability to help with transporting the child to doctor, counseling or other appointments. We will also discuss how providing kinship care can possibly have an impact on family relationships – in both positive and negative ways.

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Will I Have a Background Check? Yes. Background checks are required for all adult household members in a kinship home. Background checks include the following: History with any Children Services agency Criminal and financial checks Driver’s license checks References If you believe that there will be concerns with your background check please talk to the worker completing your home study. Not all past problems will prevent you from becoming a kinship provider.

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It is Important to Provide Accurate Information…. It is against state law to give false information on your application to be a kinship, foster or adoptive parent. This also includes any information you give to the worker during your home study process. This means you must report any previous Children Services involvement, legal or criminal history or any other information that is requested. Your home study can be denied if false information is discovered. If you have questions about something in your past please ask your worker.

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Things to Know About Our Children… To you, this child may be your niece or nephew, a friend of your child’s or your grandchild. Someone who is happy, talkative and fun to be around. However, many of the children our agency sees have been physically or sexually abused and/or neglected. Many have been exposed to drug or alcohol use before and after birth. Some of our children show few effects. Most show some effects and some are severely effected by what they have experienced.

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You May Not Know What Has Happened…. Sometimes parents are able to keep their problems a secret from other family members or the child may be afraid to tell anyone what is happening. More often, most extended family members are aware of problems but are uncertain how to help.

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Special Challenges That a Kinship Parent May Have With a Child….. Children may need help with divided loyalties. Children love their parents but may love you too. They need permission from you to love both. They may need help coming to terms with what happened and how it affects them. They will need protection from those that have hurt them. They may need help dealing with disappointments from parents. They will need you to help answer questions. They will need your support and love through a very difficult time.

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Other Things to Consider As Your Role Changes…. Your role changes from being the “spoiler” to a parent. Caring for kin children can cause tension and jealousy in your extended family. Dealing with visitation and how the child reacts can be stressful. Learning the difference between being helpful and when to allow parents to do for themselves can be challenging. You may have to deal with the disappointment of birth parents, if they don’t try as hard as you expected, to get their child back. Your role may change with extended family members. You may experience a lack of appreciation from the child’s parents.

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Other Challenges to Be Aware Of…. Keeping the communication with the agency open and honest. Working with and understanding the child welfare system, the players and their roles. Learning to cope with disappointments Not knowing what or whom to believe ~ Being told two different stories from the child’s parents and the caseworker. Interruptions in your life! Transportation to visits, court hearings, attending counseling with the child, agency meetings and court reviews. You will be asked to participate in some or most of these meetings. Loss of freedom and routine that go with adding a child into your life that you were not expecting at this stage of your life.

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What Do I Do if a Child Talks to Me About Abuse or Neglect? Be prepared. You may hear things that upset you from the child. Up to now you have only heard their parents’ side of the story. Don’t ask leading questions such as “Did your mommy hit you in the face?”. It’s okay to ask “Where did you learn that?”. Share stories with the child’s caseworker. Most importantly, believe and support the child.

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There Are Many Different Agencies Involved With a Family When Children Services Has Custody of a Child….. Juvenile Court- Progress reports are given to the judge every 3 months on how the parents are doing on meeting their goals. Guardian ad litem- This is a person who is appointed by the judge to look at all the circumstances and progress related to the child and then makes recommendations to the court. Schools, doctors, counselors, caseworkers, and any other persons who may be involved in the child’s life.

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What Other Meetings Will I Be Asked to Attend? Because you are now caring for a child in our custody, there are many different meetings you may be asked to attend. Some of them are: School, counseling, court hearings, agency reviews and medical appointments to name a few. If a child is receiving physical therapy you will be needed to attend the sessions. You may also be asked to help with transporting a child to a visit with their parents. Caseworkers will make home visits to talk with you and the child to see how things are going. A kinship worker may also contact you to check with you to see if you need anything and offer support.

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What Help Will I Receive When I Become a Kinship Home? If a child is placed in your home, there are some funds available to help with expenses ~ A medical card which you will have to apply for through the Department of Jobs and Family Services (DJFS) If the child remains in the agency’s custody, there is a payment of $100.00 per month. You may be eligible for day care assistance through DJFS…

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In Addition…. You may be able to receive “Child Only” funds through DJFS if the child you are caring for meets their criteria. We also have available a kinship worker who can meet with you to answer your questions, help you through the paperwork and offer support during the time you are helping your family or friend.

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What is The Goal of the Agency When Children Are Removed from Their Home?  Our first and most important goal is to work with parents so their child may return to their care.  The parents and caseworker have certain tasks that they need to complete before reunification is considered. These tasks are written down in a case plan.  Reunification is always our first goal.

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How Does Children Services Receive Custody of a Child? The agency receives information that a child is being abused or neglected. The report is checked into and if there is enough information and the child’s safety is at risk, the court may order emergency custody to the agency. There is a court hearing within 30 days to see if the child should remain in foster care (or kinship care) or return home. When the agency has temporary custody of a child there are many things that the worker has to do: there are visits to arrange, counseling or doctor appointments, case plan activities, looking for a kinship home, school concerns and working with the parent towards returning the child home….

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What Else Can Happen? Parents have up to 12 months to work with their caseworker on the problems that resulted in their child being removed from their home. If a child can not return home within the 12 months a plan is made of where their child will live permanently. This could mean that the parents could lose their legal rights to their child. This is called permanent custody. The child could then be adopted by either a relative or by someone approved by the agency.

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However….. There may be times that you care for a child beyond a 12 month period. Parents may make some progress towards reunification but not enough to have their child returned. Some kinship families have had children in their homes up to two years.

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What is Concurrent Planning? Returning children to their parents is the agency’s first goal. However, if that is not an option the agency would like to know who the parents would want their children to live with if they could not live with them. These ideas are written down and filed with the court. However, the agency has the final decision if a child should be permanently placed in a home other than their parents. Children Services will contact the names given by the parents to find out how interested they are in becoming a kinship home or permanent home .

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If Your Home is Approved for Kinship Care… You may want to consider becoming a foster parent. By training to be a foster parent you will receive a daily payment, will be reimbursed for many expenses, have mileage paid for when attending agency meetings and will receive extra support from the placement staff.

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Becoming a Foster Parent Means … You must have a fire inspection. You will have to comply with all agency rules and instructions. And you must complete a more detailed home study process. You must complete 36 hours of training which is for both foster parents and anyone who wants to adopt ~ this includes kinship parents who may later consider adopting a child that they have provided care for in their home.

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Why Should I Go to Training? Caring for children who have been abused or neglected is different than caring for children who have not experienced trauma. Every move or separation is upsetting for a child. Some children handle their feelings through relief, some through tears and some through anger. If you know what to expect and are confident, the child is more likely to be able to stay in your home and not have to experience another move. Training will also give you information about working with birth parents and how the removal impacted their life.

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What Else Would I Learn in Training?  The child welfare system and court process can be confusing and difficult to understand. Training will give you the information you need to know about how the child welfare system works and will discuss your role as a caregiver within the system. There is training specifically for children who have been sexually abused and how separation from their parents can impact a child’s well-being. Taking advantage of training can help you cope with the tasks and responsibilities you will have and give you the chance to talk to other parents in the same situation.

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Please Talk to Your Spouse or Partner… Deciding to become a kinship parent effects every person in your household. Please take the time to discuss the pros and cons of providing care for a child that is not your own. Some topics to talk about:  Attending school activities  Participation in after school activities  Your ability to care for an infant/toddler or teenager. Is your spouse or partner willing to help with the additional responsibilities of caring for another child such as helping with homework, daily care (for young children), doctor appointments and after school activities? Are they willing to help with visits and meetings that are required by our agency? Are they supportive of this change or are you the only one willing to take on this challenge? Additional financial costs

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Other Considerations… It is important that you talk to other family members about how bringing a child (or children) into your home will effect your family time. If you have children of your own, it is especially important to talk to them about how they feel. You will be juggling more schedules and activities and your attention will be focused on an additional person in your household. Most kids will accept another child moving into their home but it is important to hear their thoughts on the subject and talk about how it will effect their family.

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Family Considerations… Caring for a relative’s child can be welcomed by your extended family or it can be seen as interfering. This is something you may want to discuss with close family members to get an idea of how they will react to you becoming a kinship parent. You may decide you do not need the support of all your extended family, and you will know what to expect if you make the decision to care for a child with or without their support.

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Community Resources to Deal With the Challenges… Case Worker Support Counseling Respite Mental Health Case Management Drug and Alcohol Services Training Family and Children First Council Developmental Disability Services Your case worker can help explain what some of these services provide or give you information for other resources not listed here. Please talk to your worker if you need help.

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We Ask That You Take Care of Yourself! Taking care of yourself is one of the best things you can do. There are a number of things you can do to help yourself : ~ Seek time out for fun. ~ Take care of relationships with others in your family. ~ Let us know if you are overwhelmed, burned out or need assistance. ~ You can ask the agency for help and respite if you need a break. ~ And most of all, take time for yourself!

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Finally…. Please take the time to think about what it means to you and your family by becoming a kinship home. There are many reasons to help a child ~ taking on this type of responsibility will change your life in many ways. We are grateful that you are interested in helping out.

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Thank You For Thinking About Becoming a Kinship Parent! The information in this video is only a brief description of what the kinship experience is like. It is not meant to answer all your questions. Your worker will give you more information as your home study process continues. Please ask questions and tell us how we can help you. Thanks again for thinking about becoming a kinship home for someone you know.

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We Would Like to Give Credit To The Following People…. Athens County Children Services Kinship Planning Group Ohio Child Welfare Training Program “Keeping It in the Family”. Curriculum, Denise Goodman, PhD. 01.21.10

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Mission Statement: Protecting Children, Strengthening Families, Securing Futures.

Summary: Are you interested in becoming a Kinship Care provider? Please watch this informative presentation to find out more!

Tags: foster care kinship athens county

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