Kinship care refers to the care of children by relatives or, in some jurisdictions, close family friends. During the month of September (and every month) we celebrate these amazing families!
In honor of Kinship Care Month, we thought we could share a few of our family stories. Check out our previous blog post for more stories.
When Tristan’s fifth cousin received the call, there was no hesitation before she said yes
Tristan* came into care due to prenatal drug exposure. Scared and unsure of what to do next for their little boy, his parents left him at the hospital. He was there for weeks without visitors and upon discharge was placed in a traditional foster home.
Tristan’s two older brothers, Trevor and Bryant, came into foster care several years ago and were adopted by different families. Their adoptive parents were unable to take Tristan into their homes. Tristan’s case manager referred him to the Coalition’s 30 Day to Family® program and Teara was assigned to the case.
Teara searched for family members that might be interested in a connection with Tristan. Several family members were upset when they were contacted because of their estranged relationship with Tristan’s mom and dad and were not interested in providing placement. Maternal grandmother and paternal aunt were interested, but they could not provide placement due to various issues. During her search, Teara found 271 family members to add to Tristan’s family tree and spoke with 30 of them.
When Teara called Tristan’s 5th cousin, Maleka, there was no hesitation before she said yes. She and her partner, Callie, had recently discussed becoming foster parents. Maleka had been contacted years prior when Trevor and Bryant came into care, but she wasn’t at a point in her life to take them into her home. That decision haunted her. Even more perfect, Maleka worked at a daycare that Tristan would be able to attend with her during the day.
Due to COVID-19 precautions, Teara completed a walk-through of the home virtually via Zoom. She found the home to be more than suitable for Tristan. They live nearby Maleka’s sister and nieces and nephews so not only would the family have support, but Tristan would get to grow up with some of his relatives. Tristan moved into the home and Teara referred Maleka and Callie to the Coalition’s Families United program for licensing. Annie was assigned to the case.
Annie was quickly able to build rapport with the family even though it was a virtual relationship. She enrolled the couple in virtual training through the Coalition and supported them throughout the licensure process. They were so eager to become Tristan’s foster parents that they completed everything in record time. They were new to foster parenting so Annie spent a lot of time helping them understand the system and their role.
Maleka and Callie were hesitant to reach out to the family members identified by Teara because of their complicated relationship with some of the family and their worry the experience with others would be the same. Annie spoke to them in-depth about the importance of familial connections especially for youth in foster care. Annie’s encouragement and guidance helped them contact family members including maternal grandma and paternal aunt who initially reached out. They continue to speak regularly to Tristan’s family as well as send pictures and updates.
Maleka and Callie love Tristan so much. They are amazing advocates and proactive about his growth and development. Tristan has completely integrated into their family and is thriving. His case plan has changed from reunification to adoption.
Maleka and Callie look forward to their future with Tristan but will always hold a special place in their home and hearts for his past.
Naomi didn’t bat an eye when she was contacted by the Coalition’s 30 Days to Family® program to care for her three great-nieces in foster care
6-year-old Georgette, 12-year-old Lacey, and 13-year-old Bobbie were the daughters of Naomi’s niece, Abby, with whom she had a very close relationship.
Naomi was previously licensed as a foster parent twenty years ago so she had an understanding of the foster care system, but a lot had changed since then. She was hesitant at first to complete the licensure process because there were a lot of hoops to jump through and licensing workers – total strangers – asked her such personal questions. It all felt so intrusive.
Hannah, Families United Specialist, was assigned to guide Naomi on her journey to become a licensed relative foster home. Hannah sensed Naomi’s hesitation and felt that her guard was up. Hannah spent a lot of time talking one-on-one with Naomi. She made the interview process very conversational to ease Naomi’s discomfort. They were able to connect on a personal level which allowed Naomi to open up.
Naomi was excellent support for her niece. She provided updates on a regular basis and ended up supervising all of the visits in her home. Abby would come to Naomi’s house and participate in the activities of regular day-to-day life like after-school homework, dinner, bath time, and bedtime. Abby was there for her children during these important moments allowing them to hold on to their bond during this difficult time. Over time, the visits continued to increase as Abby worked her case plan for reunification. Naomi was there every step of the way and worked well with Abby’s team.
A few months later, Abby completed everything on her service plan and the court ordered a trial home visit – the final step before reunification. It was springtime, the kids were still in school in Naomi’s school district, and they each attended different schools. The court was ready to move forward with the trial home visit, but there were no plans in place for Abby to be able to accommodate the kids’ schedules. Both Abby and Naomi were anxious about the timing of transitioning the kids back home.
They wanted to wait just a little bit longer to make sure everything was in place for the children and Abby to be successful. The team told Naomi that because the kids were ordered to go home she would stop receiving monthly payments and daycare assistance to help care for the kids even if they stayed with her. Naomi and Abby decided it was best for the children to stay with Naomi until the school year was complete. Naomi cared for the children without any state assistance and paid out of pocket for Georgette to attend daycare before school. Naomi worked with Abby to make sure she had all the important information for the children: doctors’ and dentists’ contact information, upcoming appointments, favorite foods, clothing sizes, and educational information.
At the end of the school year, Georgette, Lacey, and Bobbie were reunited with their mom. With everything in place, Abby was more than ready to be with her children and thrive. This experience brought Naomi and Abby closer than ever. Naomi still visits with the children frequently and attends birthdays and holiday get-togethers. This was truly a happy ending for this family.”
We are so grateful to work with families like yours, the ones who step up to make a difference! For all your work, your sacrifice, your dedication – we thank you!
*Names changed to protect child’s confidentiality.