Kinship Caregiver Engagement and Support Program

About This Program

Target Population: Potential and current kinship caregivers such as grandparents, other relatives (aunts/uncles, older siblings, etc.), and "fictive kin," (e.g., godparents, close family friends, etc.) of children involved in child welfare systems (children aged 0 to 21)

For children/adolescents ages: 0 – 21

For parents/caregivers of children ages: 0 – 21

Program Overview

The Kinship Caregiver Engagement and Support Program is a trauma-informed, triad-centric, child welfare intervention that aims to increase the likelihood of a placement with relatives or fictive kin. In turn, this placement can lead to improved outcomes in safety, well-being, and permanency for children. Additionally, the kinship placement ideally facilitates higher levels of devotion to meeting placement goals for the entire family, as the kinship caregiver has more insight into family dynamics than a traditional foster parent would possess. Kinship Caregiver Engagement and Support Program is designed to assist the local Child Welfare agency in:

  • Identifying kinship family supports
  • Providing education on kinship licensure processes
  • Finding emergency kinship identification for placement options for children being removed
  • Finding kinship identification for children in congregate care
  • Increasing culturally and racially relevant placements

Program Goals

The goals of Kinship Caregiver Engagement and Support Program are:

  • Learn how to access services available to kinship caregivers
  • Receive family services that increase the likelihood the children stay in your care
  • Reduce anxiety of parenting children placed in your care
  • Allows peace of mind knowing all siblings are placed in your home and are safe

Logic Model

View the Logic Model for Kinship Caregiver Engagement and Support Program.

Essential Components

The essential components of Kinship Caregiver Engagement and Support Program include:

  • Logistical elements:
    • The Kinship Navigator is a dedicated worker who is guided by a quality of care for children in the child welfare system:
      • Goal consists of finding a kinship (family) first placement
      • Solely responsible for:
        • Identifying a potential kinship/relative placement
        • Assessing the potential kinship/relative placement
        • Engaging the potential kinship/relative placement
        • Clearing the home for a kinship/relative placement
      • Serves as the liaison to initially support the kinship triad as an appropriate placement is made by the child welfare agency. The kinship triad consists of:
        • The child or youth
        • Their birth-family
        • Their kinship/relative caregiver
      • Responsible for supporting and empowering the role of the birthparent in the identification of relatives that can be vetted to provide temporary support of children
      • Engages youth 7 years and older, if appropriate, to assist in the identification of those that can provide temporary care.
      • Transfers to role of ongoing caseworker once the placement is made in the home of the kinship caregiver:
        • Responsible for assessing and recommending additional support services for the kinship triad, if needed
    • Kinship Caregiver Engagement and Support Program is implemented as a program in a public-private partnership, where the kinship navigator is the staff of the private agency but has a workspace in the public agency.
      • Clearly identified roles and responsibilities for private and public worker exist during the initial referral and engagement process for a kinship/relative placement. Kinship Navigators assist the child welfare system by addressing the system’s ability to recruit and retain kinship/relative caregivers.
      • A schedule of timelines and handoffs is created so that contact with the Kinship Navigators is defined via starting and ending points.
      • Kinship Navigators are available 24/7 for service delivery of kinship navigation services.
      • Kinship Navigation is designed to be implemented as a county-wide/regional service that meets the needs of families in their communities.
      • Kinship Navigator caseloads should be 10-12 families, with oversight by a Kinship Navigator supervisor.
  • Service delivery method elements:
    • A Kinship Navigator Assessment Form to identify a minimum of three best qualified potential kinship/relative placements prior to recommending the best placement.
    • Transportation assistance for any case with Kinship Navigator involvement.
    • Processes and protocols specific to emergency (crisis), nonemergency (at-risk), and congregate care placements.
    • Specific kinship/relative family finding protocols inclusive of birth parent and youth engagement to assist in identifying appropriate resources for additional placement options, family interviewing, social media review, and government database search (e.g., Accurint)
  • Required Core Competencies of the Kinship Navigator:
    • Competency 1: Cultural and Racial competency
      • Understands the influences of culture and race on privacy, family dynamics, and home environment that may not be reflective of traditional paradigms of family.
    • Competency 2: Communication
      • Communicates with a goal to build rapport and trust with the family through a style that is respectful and purposeful. This includes gathering and sharing information through a blend of speaking and listening.
    • Competency 3: Family finding skill mindful of overcoming barriers
      • Reduces barriers, not only due to inclusive system logistics, but also barriers to trust, anxiety, and even fear or anger at the child welfare system. Subsequently, reducing these also assist in building communication rapport.
    • Competency 4: Knowledge of child welfare as a system inclusive of protocols and practice standards specific to the certification of relative/kinship care families.
      • Possesses an advanced knowledge of child welfare systems inclusive of the ethical and legal areas as these areas create an empathetic understanding to the experience of the family.
    • Competency 5: Understanding of child welfare disparities
      • Possesses awareness of inequalities in child welfare outcomes and their causes within and across communities, as defined by social, cultural, gender, age, and sexuality demographics and applies an environmental lens to take these into account.
    • Competency 6: The role of technology
      • Possesses proficiency of needed technology and an understanding of the absence of technology in communicating with potential kinship caregivers in the family finding and family engagement processes. Family engagement is achieved through the assistance of technology and not as the sole means.
    • Competency 7: Educating families on all options and acting as a broker of services
      • Understands their role in identifying and linking family to each other and services in order to support a relative/kinship placement as effectively and efficiently as possible.

    Program Delivery

    Child/Adolescent Services

    Kinship Caregiver Engagement and Support Program directly provides services to children/adolescents and addresses the following:

    • Increased trauma when separated from family
    • Increased separation anxiety from family
    • Loss of culture, community, family connections, and educational stability
    • Diminishment of positive safety, well-being, and permanency
    Services Involve Family/Support Structures:

    This program involves the family or other support systems in the individual's treatment: Biological Parents: Concrete goods provided if an immediate need is identified Can give recommendations for possible kin with whom the child(ren) can be placed Referral sent and an on-going caseworker is assigned through the case management arm of the organization once the placement recommendation has been accepted by the county child welfare office Further assistance provided based on needs identified through the family assessment and home study process County public child welfare caseworker Non-Emergency, at-risk placements (i.e., family-based therapy, In-home services, etc.) Respite caregiver(s)

    Parent/Caregiver Services

    Kinship Caregiver Engagement and Support Program directly provides services to parents/caregivers and addresses the following:

    • Family member or close friend of a child in need of a place to live away from their parent(s); possible unfamiliarity with navigating the kinship foster care licensing process, as well as lack of understanding of the complexities of child welfare and court systems; need for financial assistance options regarding certifications; tendency for families involved with the child welfare system to experience disempowerment and reduced social capital; unfamiliar with additional natural supports and other services including concrete supports and community services

    Recommended Intensity:

    For emergency placements: 3–5 hours per day prior to placement; Non-emergency and congregate care: 2–3 hours per day prior to locating a kinship placement option or support

    Recommended Duration:

    The duration of the program varies based on placement type (i.e., kinship care or transitioning children from group care to kinship care).Emergency (crisis): Intensity is 0-24 hours. Non-Emergency (at-risk): 2-week process. Congregate care: Ongoing until step-down into kinship care placement.

    Delivery Settings

    This program is typically conducted in a(n):

    • Foster / Kinship Care
    • Community-based Agency / Organization / Provider
    • Group or Residential Care
    • Justice Setting (Juvenile Detention, Jail, Prison, Courtroom, etc.)
    • Public Child Welfare Agency (Dept. of Social Services, etc.)
    • Virtual (Online, Telephone, Video, Zoom, etc.)


    This program does not include a homework component.


    Kinship Caregiver Engagement and Support Program has materials available in a language other than English:


    For information on which materials are available in this language, please check on the program's website or contact the program representative (contact information is listed at the bottom of this page).

    Resources Needed to Run Program

    The typical resources for implementing the program are:

    • Transportation services
    • Computer
    • Personnel (number of employees is determined by the number of families open in the child welfare system)
    • Agency cellphone
    • Driver’s license
    • Personal vehicle
    • Government database search (e.g., Accurint license may be needed)
    • Office/cubicle space within public child welfare system
    • Access to local public child welfare case management system

    Manuals and Training

    Prerequisite/Minimum Provider Qualifications

    Kinship Navigators should have a Bachelor’s degree in social work or a related field (preferred) or equivalent work experience.

    Manual Information

    There is a manual that describes how to deliver this program.

    Program Manual(s)

    Program Manual Information:

    • A Second Chance, Inc. (2020). Kinship Navigator standard operating procedures. Author.

    Training Information

    There is training available for this program.

    Training Contact:
    • Lisa Chambers
      phone: (412) 303-2964
    Training Type/Location:

    Training is obtained onsite or virtually. It is recommended that all interested parties, inclusive of the local child welfare agency attend training to create a collaborative team.

    The A Second Chance, Inc.’s (ASCI) triad model starts with Kinship Values training as we want to ensure the organization aligns with and understands Kinship Values. From this point, Navigation Specific training begins, where more direct engagement with job duties and partnering with local child welfare agencies, or other community-based organization occurs.

    Number of days/hours:

    Training would take 6-12 weeks to ensure comprehensive understanding of Kinship Values and the ASCI Navigator Program Model. Further training may be needed based on the complexity of their child welfare system and the unique needs of the kinship families in their region.

    Implementation Information

    Pre-Implementation Materials

    There are pre-implementation materials to measure organizational or provider readiness for Kinship Caregiver Engagement and Support Program as listed below:

    An optional assessment tool, the Kinship Strength Assessment – Professional Version (KSA-PV) is recommended. The KSA-PV is a review process and environmental scan designed to facilitate informed conversation around kinship care programming inclusive of its ability to provide Kinship Navigator services. It is also intended to view objectives from how the system responds to kinship families. This can be provided via emailing the training contact listed in the Manuals and Training section above.

    Formal Support for Implementation

    There is formal support available for implementation of Kinship Caregiver Engagement and Support Program as listed below:

    Technical assistance is provided both onsite and/or virtually.

    The initial formal support provides the following actions:

    • Process Mapping – defining the current construct in placement
    • Basic components of business process modeling in the Kinship Navigator training includes:
      • Process Exploration - Outlining the overall workflow from case onset to its successful permanency.
      • Identification of Tasks and Activities - Calling out what is performed by a stakeholder as well as the system.
      • Flow of the Work - The creation of process map to illustrate the work.
      • Events in Process Identified - These are triggers that cause a process to begin, end, or may redirect a process to a different path.
      • Kinship Gateways - Family driven decisions that can change the path of the process depending on conditions or events.
      • Stakeholders - Specifically naming the people or systems that perform the tasks or activities.
      • Defining specific features required and customizing these applications to build the Kinship Navigator model

    This includes consultation specification documents (i.e., forms, program steps, etc.).

    Strengthening and extending Kinship Navigation strategies and programs includes the following actions:

    • Advise and assist to develop, define, refine strategies, programs, and activities and to glean lessons that will sustain the ongoing implementation and growth of the Kinship Navigation process.
    • Assisting with implementation of recommended solutions.
    • 2-hour overview – awareness presentation for providers and administrators (Not to exceed 50 people)
    • Products:
      • Consultation specification documents (i.e., forms, program steps, etc.)
      • Training of Staff
      • Kinship Navigator Training Overview and Schedule
    • Follow-Up Consultation and TA to Support On-Going Implementation:
      • Stabilizing Kinship Navigation Practice
      • Assist in determining strategies and an appropriate timeline to develop a sustainable program beyond the life of the technical assistance.
      • Permanently improving organizational effectiveness around Kinship Navigation.
      • Consideration of a change management and/or internal branding of the Kinship Navigation model
      • This includes consultation specification documents (i.e., forms, program steps, etc.).

    Fidelity Measures

    There are fidelity measures for Kinship Caregiver Engagement and Support Program as listed below:

    Checklists have been developed for:

    • Kinship Navigator: Documentation Requirements Checklist
      • Referral process documentation
    • Assessment Process: Navigator Assessment process to assess a successful placement
      • Information Gathering
        • Gathering information about the family, the youth and dynamics from the staffing, documentation in the county database management system and child welfare staff– complete staffing form
      • Interview:
        • Getting to know the family though the phone screening process – phone screening
        • Initial Home: Completing the present danger assessment in the home. This initial home screening provides the needed information regarding home environment for safety – present danger assessment form
      • Observation:
        • Though meeting the potential kinship caregiver (and if the case allows meeting the youth or birth family if for congregate care or non-emergency cases) – worker completes the required Department of Human Services Inspection and Home assessment forms.
      • Collateral Information: Review any additional information to better understand the perspective kinship caregiver(s)
        • Reviewing clearance and other pertinent information needed for placement and kinship caregiver licensing.

    Trained Observations

    • Supervision Guide and Checklist

    This can be provided via emailing the training contact listed in the Manuals and Training section above.

    Implementation Guides or Manuals

    There are no implementation guides or manuals for Kinship Caregiver Engagement and Support Program.

    Implementation Cost

    There are no studies of the costs of Kinship Caregiver Engagement and Support Program.

    Research on How to Implement the Program

    Research has not been conducted on how to implement Kinship Caregiver Engagement and Support Program.

    Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research

    Child Welfare Outcome: Permanency

    Lee, D. H. J., Huerta, C., & Farmer, E. M. Z. (2021). Kinship navigation: Facilitating permanency and equity for youth in child welfare. Children and Youth Services Review, 131, Article 106251.

    Type of Study: Pretest–posttest study with a nonequivalent control group (Quasi-experimental)
    Number of Participants: 1,108


    • Age — 0–17 years
    • Race/Ethnicity — 49% African American, 34% White, and 13% Mutliracial
    • Gender — 52% Female and 18% Male
    • Status — Participants were youth involved in the child welfare system.

    Location/Institution: Alleghany County, Pennsylvania

    Summary: (To include basic study design, measures, results, and notable limitations)
    The purpose of the study was to examine permanency outcomes for youth served by one kinship care agency: A Second Chance, Inc. Kinship Navigator Program (ASCI KNP) [now called Kinship Caregiver Engagement and Support Program]. Participant data was compared for episode-of-care permanency outcomes in youth served by ASCI KNP with those served by other agencies without kinship navigation, who were removed from their homes during the same 27-month period (January 2017-March 2020). Measures utilized include administrative data from the Alleghany County Department of Human Services (DHS) Office of Child, Youth, and Family Services. Results indicate that ASCI KNP was associated with significantly higher rates of permanent legal custodianship and decreased disparities in outcomes between African American and White youth. Limitations include results may not generalize to more challenged or less developed programs and/or systems; detailed information and nuances were not available to explore and understand more fully, and more detailed and expansive data on ASCI KNP would be useful and informative; and lack of follow-up.

    Length of controlled postintervention follow-up: None.

    Additional References

    No reference materials are currently available for Kinship Caregiver Engagement and Support Program.

    Contact Information

    Toni Wagner
    Title: Provider/Administrator at Community-Based Organization
    Agency/Affiliation: Kinship Caregiver Engagement and Support Program
    Phone: (412) 342-0600
    Dr. James Freeman
    Title: Chief Program Officer Agency
    Agency/Affiliation: A Second Chance, Inc
    Email: Phone: (412) 342
    Phone: (412) 342-0600

    Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: March 2022

    Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: December 2022

    Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: October 2022