Kinship Navigator Program Development: Listening to Family, Youth, and Advocate Voice

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Journal of Public Child Welfare

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Kinship caregivers are relatives or close friends who assume caregiving responsibilities due to a variety of unexpected (and sometimes traumatic) circumstances. While many kinship care arrangements happen outside the child welfare system, kinship care also forms an increasing percentage of all child welfare placements and is distinct from traditional non-relative foster parenting. Kinship placements can promote family and cultural continuity and better outcomes for children. However, they also present unique dynamics and stressors, and could significantly benefit from a specific array of social supports and economic resources. This study describes how a partnership-based research project by the state child welfare agency and university partners informed the development of a model for Oregon's Kinship Navigator Program. Researchers gathered statewide input from a diverse array of caregivers, youth in care, and kinship caregiver advocates. Focus groups and key informant interviews were conducted to identify the gaps and needs of Oregon's kinship caregivers. Eleven emergent themes were identified. Recommendations are provided for integrating themes into kinship navigator programs.


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