Angel M. stepped into a kinship caregiving role under extremely difficult circumstances. Her son was dependent on drugs and unable to take care of his children. “He did these parenting classes and he regained custody. Then he relapsed again,” Angel said.
Angel’s husband filed for an emergency protective order and they eventually became kinship caregivers to two young boys. “That’s how I got them, and I know I’m here for the long haul till the day I take my last breath, “she said.
It was a life-changing moment on many levels, to be between her child and grandchildren, parenting again at a stage when many people are transitioning to an empty nest. “I was at that point in my life where our youngest was 20 years old and we were ready to move on to that next chapter, and we didn’t.”
The sudden upheaval and need to navigate an entirely new path were major reasons Angel joined the UK College of Social Work’s Kinship Virtual Interaction Program (KIN-VIP). It’s a virtual initiative that connects and supports kinship caregivers across Kentucky. The online discussions are a safe space for caregivers to share their experiences with other kinship caregivers under the leadership of a peer facilitator who has experience in kinship care and group facilitation. The program is offered via a collaborative partnership involving the Kentucky Kinship Resource Center (KKRC) at the University of Kentucky and the Department of Community Based Services. Virtual Groups are offered throughout the month at various times to fit caregiver’s schedules. This versatility in scheduling coupled with the online zoom platform, makes the support group versatile and convenient for caregivers so they can meet the needs of their families but also receive support. Caregivers can attend as many groups throughout the month as they find helpful. Pilot groups which last 12 weeks are periodically offered to provide a unique group focus for caregivers
“There was a wealth of knowledge there. There are a wealth of experiences people can share. The peer facilitator was amazing—she was on it helping with all the resources and everything. I would absolutely recommend it.” Angel said. “My advice to a kinship caregiver in that position… is fight for every right that you know that your children have or your grandchildren have.”