By Emily Witt
September is National Kinship Care Month, giving us an opportunity to show gratitude to all of the kinship caregivers in our community! When a child is placed in Kinship Care, this means they’re able to live with someone they have a strong connection with already. The caregiver is often a relative, or even a close family friend, known as fictive kin.
At CASA, we value family first. We know that children thrive when they’re surrounded by people from their own cultures and backgrounds, and our Family Finding and Early Family Engagement programs focus on finding relative placements for children whenever possible. Even if a child cannot live with a relative or fictive kin, we help to find and foster these connections to help children build strong networks of support.
Sam Bielawski, our Family Finding Manager at CASA, notes that these connections mean more than a stable home for the children CASA serves: These connections often create a path for children to heal from the trauma they’ve experienced.
“When kids are removed from their parents, they’re being removed from so much more. They’re at risk of losing their connection to relatives, siblings, schools, and their entire community and support system. If we place them with fictive kin, we can help keep this village intact for them. While foster homes can be a great option, these placements can’t always provide the same normalcy and continuity as community connections.
In general, being with someone they share a strong connection with, like family or another trusted adult, can create a more stable path to permanency that allows children to live in homes rather than facilities. So many behavioral issues stem from the trauma children have experienced, but we know that healing comes from connection. The earlier we can get relatives involved, the better! Even if a relative can’t be a placement, they can be a healthy connection and really devote themselves to having contact with a child. You never know how that’ll help down the road!”
Family Finding and Early Family Engagement services that contribute to Kinship Care are important for the children CASA serves. We’ve compiled a list of resources to help our community learn more about Kinship Care!
Support family connections for the children we serve as a CASA volunteer! Learn more here, or apply directly today.
2021 Advocacy Kinship Care Reunification