Kinship care is an extended family home that’s approved to care for a child or youth in care. The caregiver must have a family relationship or significant connection to the child – for example, grandparent, aunt or close family friend. Supports for kinship care are similar to the supports provided to a child and caregivers in foster care.
Kinship caregivers provide:
- a child with love and care in a familiar setting
- families with a sense of trust, stability and comfort
- an ability to support and maintain lifelong traditions and memories
- support to a child in building healthy relationships within the family
- guidance and reinforcement of a child’s cultural identity and positive self-esteem
Whenever possible, children and youth in care live in culturally-appropriate placements where they can maintain a sense of belonging with members of the community.
Role of a kinship caregiver
Children living in kinship care are like other children and require love, comfort, security and stability. Alberta’s kinship care program is based on the belief that whenever possible, children should have the opportunity to live with extended family or those they feel connected to and that these connections promote the overall well-being of children and youth. Kinship care program allows for a child who needs to come into care to be placed immediately with someone familiar.
- take care of the day-to-day needs of the child residing in their care, including the child’s physical, emotional, spiritual and cultural needs
- work as part of a team with the child, the parents and extended family, support network, caseworker, and other professionals
- may participate in training that enhances and develops their parenting skills or is specific to the needs of the children in their care
- participate in planning meetings
- support and facilitate appropriate contact between the child and their own family
Kinship caregivers come from all cultural and social backgrounds and are of any relationship status including common-law and same-sex relationships. Kinship caregivers are part of a team that supports the best interests of the child – they’re mentors, caregivers, role models and support systems who will provide a temporary family environment for a child.
To become a child’s kinship caregiver, you must:
- be at least 18-years old; willing to have the identified child(ren) placed in your home, and
- understand and be willing to proceed with the approval process.
Support for caregivers
Support for kinship caregivers is provided through government caregiver programs and workers, agencies, other caregivers, and the Alberta Foster Kinship Association. As a kinship caregiver, you will have ongoing contact and visits from your kinship care support worker and the child’s caseworker to ensure the needs of the child and caregivers are being met.
In addition to in-home services, caregiver support includes, but is not limited to:
- resources for respite and child care
- peer support and support groups
- recognition events
Learn more about compensation rates, training and other supports.
How to become a kinship caregiver
A caseworker from Children’s Services or a Delegated First Nation Agency might contact you directly to advise you that they are considering taking a child or youth that you know into care. You could be asked to attend a family or network meeting to assist with safety planning for the child or youth. If, during this meeting, it is determined that the child’s or youth’s safety cannot be met in their family home, you may be asked to consider becoming a kinship caregiver.
Often children need a place to stay immediately. You may be asked to take the child into your home with very little notice, sometimes within the same day. While this can be a stressful situation for everyone involved, remember it’s your right to ask any questions you have before making a decision. You also have a right to be fully informed of the requirements that you’re being asked to fulfill.
If you know a child or youth who has come into the care of Children’s Services, and want to explore how to become a kinship caregiver or how to stay connected to the child, please contact your local Children’s Services office or Delegated First Nation Agency.
For more information on how to become a kinship caregiver, read the Kinship Care Handbook.
Once you have decided to become a kinship caregiver, a kinship care support worker will work together with you to fully explore the needs of the child(ren) and youth you are currently or planning to care for, while also considering your own family’s needs. You will be supported throughout the process of becoming a kinship caregiver as well as receive ongoing support throughout the duration of time the child is placed with you.
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Toll free: 1-888-643-1889