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Supporting Kinship Caregivers

In our child sexual abuse intervention and prevention work, we often engage with adults and caregivers who play a significant role in raising and supporting children but who may not be their biological parents. Sometimes referred to as kinship caregivers or relative parents, these adults are vital to the healing, safety, and well-being of children who are temporarily or permanently separated from their parents.

We know that when we support caregivers, we are also supporting children, so it is essential that we are aware of their unique needs and the resources available to them. Our friends from the Kinship and Family Caregiver Program at the Department of Social and Health Services have shared the following information about resources and support services specifically designed for kinship caregivers in Washington. You may want to keep this information handy as you prepare for your Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Child Abuse Prevention Month activities in April!

WCSAP's newest Advocacy Station may also be relevant to your work with kinship caregivers: Advocacy with Nonoffending Parents and Caregivers Who Are Also Child Sexual Abuse Survivors.

Kinship Grandparent or Other Relative

Do you know a grandparent or other relative raising a child because their parents are unable to do so? There are more than 40,000 grandparents in our state raising grandchildren. And for every child who is living with a relative and involved with the formal child welfare system there are about 10 other children living in these kinship care families "informally". The financial, legal, and emotional issues of raising a relative's child can be challenging and overwhelming. Services and support when raising a relative's child can be a lifesaver and here in Washington State, there are critical resources to support these families.

The Kinship Caregivers Support Program (KCSP), funded by our state legislature, provides short-term support to pay for food, housing, clothing, school supplies, and other concrete services to relatives raising children who are not involved with the formal child welfare system. The KCSP is available in each county. You can find the KCSP in your community.

Additionally, Kinship Navigators are available to serve relatives raising children in 30 counties throughout WA State. Kinship Navigators serve as a one-stop shop, providing information and assistance to relatives who may not know where to turn or how to apply for benefits and services in their local community. Review the statewide list of navigators. (WCSAP hint: Building a relationship with your local Kinship Navigator would be a great way to help kinship caregivers get connected with your agency's advocacy services and child sexual abuse prevention programs).

There are many other events and resources for kinship care families. You may also want to review the free publications available to help educate relatives and professionals.

Reviewed: October 8th, 2015