A kinship caregiver is someone with a family or a cultural connection to or a strong relationship with a child in need, who cares for that child full‐time, on either a temporary or a permanent basis.
Every kinship care family is unique. Unique in how they were formed. Unique in their configuration and support. Click here to see…
Despite financial, age, health, and stress issues, it is universally recognized that kinship care provides better outcomes for children than foster care. These grandparents and other kinship caregivers are struggling, yet they are managing without breaking. As one grandparent said in the research, “we step up and raise kids when no one else would and we are rewarded with living in poverty. They count on us continuing to do what we do…out of love.”
Other changes that would indirectly support kinship care families include: improved training and education for lawyers, social workers, and legal advocates; more accessible legal aid services; steps to decrease the caseload for child protection and family service social workers.
Children raised in kinship care have often experienced trauma, and have unique needs. The grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts, uncles, friends or others who take them in need extra support. It is challenging, but the kinship caregivers are proud of how well the children are doing.
The recently published 2020 – 2021 State of Kinship Care Research Report clearly demonstrates that an increased investment in kinship care families, and recognition of the contribution of kinship caregivers, will have a profoundly positive impact on the lives of thousands of children, and outcomes will improve.
The study focuses on the experiences of diverse kinship caregivers throughout the Province of BC. It identifies the barriers and challenges faced by these families. The picture it paints is based on stories gathered through surveys, focus groups, and key informant interviews with 182 current kinship caregivers.
Six themes arose: Children and Lack of Recognition of their Challenges, Discrimination, Access to Programs, Supports and Services (Including Legal), Prevention, Caregiver Needs, and Rewards of Kinship Care
- Racism (Intergenerational trauma, colonization and Indigenous fear of Ministry involvement)
- Poverty (parents’, leading to apprehension; kinship caregiver risk of poverty)
- Inequity (between caregiver supports, between foster parents and kinship caregivers, discrepancies in social work practice), and bias against kinship caregivers.
Children and lack of recognition of challenges
- Depth of trauma experienced before kinship care
- Complexity of special needs
- Children’s fear of being moved again
- Benefits, supports, services needed
Access to Programs, Supports and Services (Including Legal) to Support Children
- Access (travel, cost)
- Mental health support, respite, aging issues, impact on the relationship with spouse and other family members.
Rewards of kinship care
- Children thriving, kinship caregivers know they are needed
If you are a grandparent or other kinship caregiver in British Columbia who is looking for more information on how to ensure the child(ren) you are raising are receiving adequate supports, call Parent Support Services Kinship Care Support Line 604-558-4740 (Greater Vancouver) 1-855-474-9777 (Toll-Free) Here is some additional information which may help too.