ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The OhioKAN Staff is here to help kinship and adoptive families access all the resources available to them statewide.
A real-life hero doesn’t have a bat cave, lasso of truth, magic hammer, or the ability to jump over buildings in a single bound.
Regular family members who have stepped up to raise a child or children when their own parents can’t care for them during times of illness, poverty, incarceration, death, violence, or other family crises are heroes known as kinship caregivers. In the United States alone there are over 2.5 million children in kinship care today.
Kinship caregiver heroes come in many different forms: grandparents, aunts, uncles, other family members, step family, even family friends. These caregivers might not stand out in the grocery store without a cape or costume, but they make a heroic difference in the lives of the child or children they care for every day.
At OhioKAN and other kinship and adoption navigator programs across the country, we know that children benefit tremendously from living with kinship caregivers. We also recognize that being a kinship caregiver comes with diverse challenges. Typically, family members step into caregiver roles in the midst of a crisis, often with little notice. This means they may be unprepared for a child’s immediate needs, from adequate living space and available beds to clothing to childcare.
Here are just a few common obstacles new kinship care providers might expect:
- New and significant financial responsibilities
- Emotional trauma (for both child and caregiver)
- Affordable and consistent child care and respite care
- Transportation issues
- Health care, education and legal system challenges
In the midst of a crisis leading to the need for kinship care, it’s not surprising that research shows outcomes improve when kinship caregivers have access to supportive services.
There are abundant resources to help kinship caregivers and their families, from nonprofit organizations to federal, state or county agencies, financial assistance programs and more. But it’s a lot to wade through, particularly while juggling new family responsibilities.
Like a trusty sidekick, Ohio Kinship and Adoption Navigator Program (OhioKAN) is a new statewide flexible, voluntary, and responsive program that offers a single point of entry for a variety of services to assist families, caregivers, and children. All kinship or adoptive families in Ohio are eligible for OhioKAN services. This includes both formal and informal kinship arrangements and private, public or international adoptive families.
OhioKAN recognizes that kinship and adoptive families are capable of finding solutions to the challenges they face and is here to partner with families through an inclusive, engaging, and genuine approach. We listen to the families and professionals in our network to improve services and increase access to services. While we may not be able to provide a bat cave, shield or indestructible armor, OhioKAN is committed to working with families to find the support they need to continue being the heroes they are.