Through kinship care, relatives and friends provide families for children

Texas children who are removed from their parents are increasingly finding temporary care with members of their extended families, such as grandparents, aunts, or uncles. These relatives often care for children who are difficult to place with traditional foster families, either because of their age or their unique needs.

Care provided by extended family members and close family friends is known as kinship care, and September is National Kinship Care Month. Across Texas, kinship caregivers fill an invaluable role in the lives of children and youth. When children are removed from their homes, Child Protective Services (CPS) seeks first to place them with a relative. In 2021, 45% of Texas children taken into CPS custody were placed with kin. Placement with a relative can allow children to remain connected to their families, cultures, schools, and communities. It also increases the likelihood that they will achieve “permanency” – adoption or a reliable relationship with the same family – before reaching adulthood.

DePelchin supports kinship caregivers in multiple ways. For example, if kinship caregivers are interested in becoming licensed foster families, DePelchin can help them through that process to ensure they receive the benefits that other foster parents receive — from support services from a case manager to the daily reimbursement rate to Medicaid health care for the children.

Kendra Burton, a mother of five who works full time as a nurse practitioner, became a foster parent through kinship care.

“When life presented this opportunity to offer my family more love, we connected with DePelchin,” Ms. Burton said. “They have been a great asset and liaison for our family.

Kinship care is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done in my life. To him that much is given, much is expected. This was our plan and I’m thankful and grateful to the organizations that assisted to make this process as seamless as possible.”

Most kinship caregivers do not seek to become licensed foster parents. While other foster parents are required to become licensed through the state, kin caregivers are not. They may not want to go through the lengthy application process, the more intensive monitoring by social workers, the 40 hours of training and many of the other requirements of becoming licensed. In addition, some families providing informal kinship care would appreciate the option to enter into more formalized foster care services and could benefit from the additional financial assistance. However, they do not qualify for those services.

DePelchin supports these caregivers through a program known as Big Hearts Raising Kids. Through this program, DePelchin staff help families find assistance with basic needs, provide guidance and coaching on parenting strategies, and connect kin caregivers with other families and DePelchin support staff.

“Our kinship caregivers often come to us needing support, guidance, and education, and we are here to help,” said Jody Chandler, DePelchin’s Program Manager for Prevention. “We are also here to show them the many strengths that they already have and the power of their decision to try.”

DePelchin is grateful for the families who provide kinship care and for the supporters who allow us to serve them.

Please click here to learn more about our kinship programs.

You may also support our kinship programs and other DePelchin services by making a donation.

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