Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Creating Connections for Kinship Caregivers

Are you raising a relative’s child?

Kinship care has been a nationally-growing phenomenon for the last decade. Census reports indicate that more than 198,000 children under age 18 live in homes where the householders are grandparents or other relatives accounting for 12.2% of all children under 18 in the state (U.S. Census, 2010). Research indicates that children in kinship care experience greater stability than those in foster care. However, many kinship families do not receive the support and resources that would help them create more stability for their household.

Arizona’s Children Association (AzCA) kinship programs have worked for years to empower the community to embrace and support these very special families and their potential to provide a positive alternative to traditional foster care. We announced our newest kinship program, Arizona Kinship Support Services, nearly a year ago when we received a federal grant “Family Connections Child Welfare/TANF Collaboration in Kinship Navigation Programs” funded through the Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children’s Bureau, which allows us to continue our work with kinship families and further grow the program.

The Arizona Kinship Support Services program provides support groups, legal services, parenting skills education, foster care licensing and adoption support, as well as connections to food, housing and clothing resources, and much more. The program also provides assistance to caregivers involved with CPS, DES and other government agencies.

Our kinship staff has been hard at work behind the scenes and we are now proud to announce a brand new website designed just for the needs of kinship caregivers! is designed to help kinship caregivers navigate the various systems that they will encounter when raising their relative’s children and connect them to the resources they need.

“We recognized that in this digital age there was not a local online resource that responded to all of the needs of kinship families,” said Candy Espino, director of operations, child welfare. “In addition to all of our kinship work throughout the last decade, we are now able to take a well-rounded approach by integrating an online resource.”

Each kinship family is unique. allows kinship caregivers to independently research their local resources or connect directly with an AzCA support staff who will assist them in determining the type of kinship family they are, what their needs are, and the best available resources.

Through the website, our caregivers are also given the opportunity to connect with a support group or meet others in the same situation for emotional support. In addition, the website also invites people to share their personal stories and read about those with parallel stories.

“Our vision for the website is that it will link caregivers to real community supports to meet their current needs,” said Espino. “We relied on the expertise of our kinship caregivers to assist in the creation of this website to ensure that it met their needs and was as user-friendly as possible.”

Visit the Arizona Kinship Support Services at Support services can also be obtained by calling the Caregiver Hotline at 1.888.737.7494.

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