Kinship Care refers to the care of children by relatives or close family friends (often referred to as fictive kin). Experts largely agree that relatives are the preferred resource for children who must be removed from their birth parents because it maintains family connections. The Department of Family Services’ kinship program provide the child a connection to birth families, their culture and family traditions, and stability. Monarch Family Services is a “Kin First” Child Placement Agency that provides specialized services to assist relatives with being verified as a temporary or permanent caregivers for children who are in the custody of CPS. We also offer supportive services during the placement process as well as after permanency is established.
My aunt, Deloris Melvin, had seven biological children and still opened her home to at least three non-related children at any given time. My aunt cared for these children as she would her own, and often for years at a time. Growing up, I referred to these children as my cousins. Later in adulthood I asked her about her motivation for caring for these children for extended periods of time, to which she answered that their parents (relatives) were experiencing various life struggles and were unable to provide proper care for their children. She felt she had the resources to offer them a home, even if it was temporary. All children affectionately referred to her as “Moma”.
Witnessing this blended family helped me understand the importance of kinship and fictive kinship care. The children in my aunt’s household were happy, healthy, and bonded with their extended family members. My experience has been that the family connection is the most emotionally healthy alternative to biological parent care. However, there is an unforeseen expense that the kinship caregiver assumes once they agree to provide care to their relative. Unfortunately, the 90% of children who live apart from their parents in informal kinship care arrangements (as my aunt) do not receive the same financial support as children formally involved with the State, although they are often in similar financial and social situations, and emotional distress.
As a kinship first agency, Monarch Family Services seeks to remove all barriers to licensing a kinship home. The agency offers the following to kinship families seeking verification as a relative placement:
- Efficient and timely services that work closely with the caseworker (kinship workers) to provide maximum support to the family
- Kinship stipend program to financially assist with the licensing process if needed
- Supportive file development process
- Trainings offered at convenient days and hours (weekends) to accommodate prospective foster/adoptive parents’ schedule, including in-home training.
- Internal home study service
- Behavior health services for all family members including psychological evaluation, individual therapy, family therapy, and/or couple’s therapy
- Home monitoring process
- Intensive Case Management
- Bilingual caseworkers and support staff to accommodate Spanish Speaking families
Monarch Family Services makes sure that kinship families successfully complete the home licensing process no matter the barrier. Once the families are licensed, they receive support from one of our case managers on staff. Some of the kinship families are working towards reunification with biological parents, while others are working through the permanency process for the child/children to remain in the home.
Monarch Family Services is a premium kinship program because of the comprehensive services offered to the kinship families. We genuinely care about the children and families that we serve. Our ultimate goal is for families to live happy and healthy lives, and as an agency we provide the resources and support to ensure that kinship families are able to comfortably provide care to their relative.