Family Ties: Strengthening Kinship Care Through Respite

Kinship Center Family Ties Staff


Kinship Center’s Family Ties program works to increase healthy family functioning for families built by relatives who have unexpectedly taken on the permanent care of children. The program predominantly serves low-income families, as well as families who are experiencing increasing economic, emotional, and social stress as they begin to care for children with severe past trauma and other emotional and developmental challenges.

While placement with family members is the preferred option for any child removed from their birth parent, relatives often need assistance in taking on this role and managing the stress of inevitable lifestyle changes. With this stress management in mind, Kinship Center has implement monthly respite care events as part of the Family Ties program. These events provide respite for parents and caregivers by hosting activities for children ranging from board games and arts and crafts to movie screenings and pizza making.

Most relative caregivers are seniors who need a high level of intervention, support, and education to keep children out of foster care and to create a stable family environment where children and teens can heal, thrive, and grow to healthy adulthood. The ongoing stress on relatives who might not be prepared for different styles parenting roles adversely impacts their own health, the children’s ability to heal and thrive, and ultimately, the family’s stability. Particularly in the critical first year of care, having the unexpected responsibility of caring for children who have suffered the trauma of abuse, neglect, and abandonment is exhausting. This is made more acute by the fact that 84 percent of the caregivers are grandparents, and most often single grandmothers. Often, the caregivers’ own basic needs such as medical care and transportation are not being met.

Kinship Center’s Family Ties respite care addresses the pressing wellbeing needs of the caregiver so they can better provide for the children. Caregivers are then able to be more patient, insightful, and rested, leading to increased safety and stability for the children.

Family Ties serves 153 families, totaling 263 children, all of whom have access to respite care events.

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