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In 2017 the wikiHow for Creating a Kin First Culture was developed based on input gathered from a convening of nine jurisdictions - Connecticut, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Washington, and Wisconsin, as well as several key national kinship organizations - the ABA Center on Children and the Law, ChildFocus and Generations United, with support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. 

 

This tool was created to foster the development of a kin first culture, defined as a child welfare system that consistently promotes kinship placement, helps children in foster care maintain connections with their family, and tailors services and supports for kinship foster families. This wikiHow includes the seven fundamental steps to creating a kin first culture and accompanying tools to implement the steps. Click here to download the full wikiHow guide.

 

In 2022 the ABA Center on Children and the Law and Generations United with support from Casey Family Programs developed a brief entitled Kinship Promising Practices to help jurisdictions implement a kin first culture by sharing promising kinship practices from across the county. This brief shares state examples organized by seven main topics to help jurisdictions change policy and practice to promote kin placement and permanency. Click here to download the full Kinship Promising Practices brief.

 

January 17, 2023 Kinship Best Practices Webinar which highlights the examples found in the Kinship Promising Practices brief, released in October 2022 in partnership with Casey Family Programs.

  1. PowerPoint Slides
  2. Recording

 

1. Lead with a kin first Philosophy

Leadership is a key ingredient to creating a kin first culture. Leaders can promote the belief that children belong with family, ensure that resources, tools, and training are aligned with the underlying values of a kin first culture, and hold all levels of the agency accountable for prioritizing placement with and connections to kin.

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2. Develop written policies and protocols that prioritize the value of kin and recognize their unique circumstances

Children in kinship foster care deserve the same attention as children placed with non-kin. Agencies that truly value kin will align their policies to ensure that children in kinship foster care have tailored services and supports and equal opportunities for permanency as other children. Whenever possible, policies should reflect the intent to serve families with respect for race, ethnicity, culture, sexual orientation, and gender identity.  Well-drafted policies and protocols will streamline the process and make it easier to place children with kin.

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3. Identify and engage kin at every step

Kin first states are ones that begin identifying a child’s extended family network from the moment the child comes to the attention of the child welfare system. Agencies should explore a connection with all identified kin and assess for their capacity to protect children and help them thrive, regardless of their race, ethnicity, cultural heritage, sexual orientation or gender identity.   Kin can play multiple roles during a child’s involvement with the child welfare system. They can support children and parents with open child protection cases, provide homes for children in foster care, help children stay connected to family while in foster care, including children in group care, and support families once the children return home.

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4. Create a sense of urgency for making the first placement a kin placement​

Research shows that kinship foster care is more stable than non-kin care and can help prevent disruptions that are harmful to a child’s well being. Kin first agencies invest necessary resources and align their policies, practices and start to make the child’s first placement with kin whenever possible.

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5. Make licensing and financially supporting kin a priority​

Kin first agencies seek to remove all barriers to licensing kin who can provide a safe and stable placement for the child. When licensing kin, caseworkers should examine the suitability of each caregiver in relation to the individual child, not just whether the caregiver can be licensed according to state or tribal licensing standards. Additionally, kin first agencies work diligently to remove barriers before allowing kin to remain unlicensed so they can have the same access to financial resources and other supports as non-kin. Many kin first agencies believe that unlicensed kinship care denies kin equal treatment.

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6. Support permanent families for children

The ultimate goal for children in foster care is to safely return home in a timely manner. Kin should support the goal of a safe return home, but remain willing to provide a permanent home if that goal cannot be met. Kin can assist families by providing safe, loving environments for the children, being positive role models for the parents, and generally supporting the families through difficult times. It is important to honor families by taking time to understand their dynamics and relationships, and explain the legal process and options. This family-centered problem solving will lead to the best possible decision about the most appropriate permanent families for children.

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7. Create a strong community network to support kin families

Community based organizations and other public systems can often be a child welfare agency’s best allies in achieving positive outcomes for children in kinship care. Community partnerships can ensure that kin have access to the tailored services and supports they need for the child.

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