Children are referred to child welfare systems when their families are known to be impacted by violence, opioid addiction, loss of housing and other stressors. Some children are placed in foster care; others are able to find refuge within their extended families, called kinship caregivers.
In King County, CCS Kinship Services help hundreds of these newly formed families accommodate the blessings and burdens of parenting with counseling, peer support, and access to support services as they become parents of young children again—or for the first time.
“These are amazing families—they tell us they are determined to ‘make this work…somehow!’” says Program Manager Hollianne Monson. “We can help in real-time, meaningful ways because we have such a great staff. They bring years of experience and great compassion to families at times of great stress for the children and their caregivers.”
Team member Cynthia Green screens potential clients before their assignment to Kinship Navigators. A former kinship caregiver herself, she brings empathy and lived experience to callers, who are frequently older adults or others living on social security or other forms of fixed income.
Navigators Kimberly Nilan and Suzanne Cabrera help families with urgent needs like food, clothing, transportation, legal fees, household items, school and youth activities, and one-time help with rent or utilities to prevent eviction or utility shut-offs. Additionally, the Kinship Care program provides peer support, where caregivers share their lived experiences, challenges, and successes. (Learn more at Navigating Kinship Care, a video from WA DSHS.)
Barb Taylor, Program Supervisor, advocates for CCS Kinship Care with the King County Kinship Collaboration, which provides a comprehensive, coordinated set of services and community education for kinship families.
Many unanticipated expenses are involved in kinship care and, unlike foster parents, Kinship Caregivers do not receive stipends. Gifts given to the Catholic Charities Foundation help pay for staffing and other expenses not covered by grants.
For more information about the Kinship Program, visit their webpage at Kinship Services – Catholic Community Services and Catholic Housing Services of Western Washington (ccsww.org).