Kinship care, a term unfamiliar to most outside of child welfare settings, describes arrangements in which children are cared for full-time by blood relatives or other adults with whom the child has a family-like relationship. Across the United States, more than 2.6 million children are in kinship care placements. In Kentucky, kinship care accounts for roughly 8% of all out-of-home placements, the second highest placement rate in the nation.
Kinship placements are preferred by most child welfare workers due to kinship’s focus on maintaining the stability of a pre-existing connection to their caregiver. This pre-existing connection between the child and the caregiver promotes the child’s well-being by minimizing the trauma of separation and significantly decreasing the chances of placement disruption. This in turn allows kinship care to provide better behavioral and mental health outcomes as compared to non-kin foster placements.
While the benefits of kinship care are widely accepted, support for kinship care providers is often lacking. Because most kinship care arrangements are made outside of the formal foster care system, kinship caregivers often do not receive the training, emotional, or financial support available to certified foster care providers.
The Kentucky Kinship Resource Center, housed at the University of Kentucky College of Social Work, recognizes this disparity and actively works to provide innovative, on-demand support for kinship caregivers through the online Kinship Catalogue Training Library.
The Kinship Catalogue Training Library
The Kinship Catalogue Training Library partners with subject area experts to provide interactive, skill-based learning modules for kinship care providers. The training library is a free, innovative, and immersive resource uniquely crafted to highlight issues frequently encountered by kinship care providers, such as communication, learning styles, children’s behaviors, and healthy discipline for teens. Through the self-paced, on-demand modules, kinship caregivers can build the skills needed to provide advanced care to the youth in their homes from anywhere – whenever and wherever it fits their schedule.
Through the library, caregivers have access to essential information to better inform the care they provide to the children entrusted to them. Each module in the library provides an experience that not only teaches important key concepts, but also allows the participant to interact with the course content for greater learning, retention, and impact. These modules, while relatively short in length, are designed to engage the participant, allow them to move through the course at their own unique pace, and apply that information to “real-world” situations.
The Kinship Catalogue Training Library serves as the model for future on-demand e-Learning tools for foster, adoptive, and kinship audiences throughout the Commonwealth and beyond. As the foster and adoptive communities of Kentucky continue to grow, it is essential that a wide range of technological resources be provided to meet the diverse needs and schedules of these caregivers. By doing so, this will help strengthen the stability of these placements, thus ensuring Kentucky’s foster children a bright, happy future with caregivers who feel seen, educated, and supported. The accessibility of the Kinship Catalogue Training Library allows it to be utilized by kinship caregivers everywhere, at any given time, and at their own pace, making it the perfect model for encouraging affordable, digital learning in a comfortable, stress-free environment for foster and adoptive caregivers across the nation.