Featured Resource: An Introduction to Relative Care: A Resource Guide for Child Welfare Workers by the Coalition for Children, Youth & Families
You've identified and engaged a relative caretaker. It's tempting to scratch "find permanency" off your to-do list for that child or children. But we all know the job is far from complete. Assessing and supporting relative families can be time consuming and comes with no guarantees. However, skills around developing and monitoring relative caregivers are critical to successful outcomes of children placed in these homes.
will help you and your ongoing case managers assess relative caregivers in the areas of:
- Resources and ability to care for the child
- Caregiver interactions with birth parents
- "Family legacies" and the caregiver's role in interrupting the passing down of disruptive family traditions to the children
You'll be able to assist relative caregivers in navigating changing family roles and the associated emotions. Permanency planning with relatives will be explained. In addition, you'll guide relatives down the challenging road of co-parenting with birth parents where appropriate.
By investing in your relative caregivers you may reap benefits around recruitment and retention in other ways:
- Your "word-of-mouth" inquiries from prospective foster families may increase, due to positive feedback your relative caregivers spread in their social circles (for more on this topic, see last month's Foster Care Footnotes on using customer service concepts).
- Potential flexibility with placement capacity. You may find that relatives can also provide respite, or even longer-term placement options for other (non-relative) children.
- The potential development of foster parent champions. These are foster parents who provide a support system for other caregivers by mentoring, connecting with resources, sharing parenting strategies, and helping caregivers navigate the child welfare system.