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.
Strategies to identify and engage kin include:
- Make family search and engagement a priority at multiple stages, not only when children are first removed from parents’ care.
- When engaging kin, focus on the role they can play to help children preserve healthy family connections, even when the children are not placed with them.
- Use a combination of casework and technology to identify kin.
- Identify and engage fathers and paternal relatives.
- Use family team meetings to identify, engage, and educate kin.
- Engage tribes early in e orts to locate family placements and supports for American Indian and Alaska Native children. Be familiar with the requirements of the Indian Child Welfare Act and how this can shape work with kinship homes.
- Document the family connections identified so the results of family search and engagement are retained for all parties working with the family throughout the child’s involvement with the child welfare system.
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