Guest Commentary: Kinship caregivers being recognized this month

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Trenee Parker is the director of the Delaware Division of Family Services, part of the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families. She began her career in social work as an intern with the division in 1995 and became director in 2018.

It seems like each month brings another opportunity to recognize a particular issue or movement, and September is no different. This is the month when we give special recognition to kinship care.

Delaware defines kinship as individuals who are blood relatives to a child or who are fictive kin, meaning they aren’t biologically related but have a long-standing, strong, close, emotional connection with a child.

Kinship care includes all those people who can provide permanent or temporary care to children to whom they did not give birth.

Many people are aware of the critical importance of our foster care families, but how many realize that kinship care plays a major role in that system by providing stable homes, security and nurturing, supportive relationships to children of all ages through young adults?

The Delaware Division of Family Services began supporting kinship care providers in 2015 because it is recognized that children have better outcomes and experience less trauma when cared for by family. Our support of kinship care increased in 2019 as the federal Administration for Children & Families offered states the opportunity to receive grants to support kinship programs. Delaware was one of many states that took advantage of that opportunity and began a partnership with the nonprofit Children’s Choice to serve kinship families across the state.

To date, that partnership has served 287 families and 763 children. This support has allowed children to maintain important connections with family and their community, which is so vital to their well-being.

If you know a kinship provider, take a moment during Kinship Care Month to recognize their efforts as they protect and nurture the children for whom they are providing temporary care.

If you are interested in learning more about the Kinship Care Program offered by the Division of Family Services and Children’s Choice, please call 302-633-2659 or email dscyf_fostercare@delaware.gov.

And, if you are a kinship care provider, thank you for your commitment to family! You are helping make our vision that “our children are our future and our responsibility” become a reality.

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