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Kinship Diversion Qualitative Research Virginia Findings. Tiffany Allen Karin Malm. Presented to Virginia Department of Social Services September 22, 2011. With Funding from :. www.childtrends.org Twitter/ childtrends www.facebook.com/childtrends :. Study Impetus.
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Presented to Virginia Department of Social Services
September 22, 2011
With Funding from:
www.childtrends.org Twitter/childtrends www.facebook.com/childtrends:
Arlington, Charlottesville, Henrico, Portsmouth, Washington, Wise
Interviews and focus groups with:
Total participants: 162
Agencies may work with families who come to DSS attention for reasons other than abuse/neglect:
“In instances where they cannot remain with the biological parent or the current guardian, we tend to seek out other family members, and we try to work with them to maintain connection with their
communities and family member so they [kids] won’t have to come into care.”– Public Agency Staff
“Our first goal before diversion is to provide services to the family to keep the child in the home. We
would try to divert from foster care but before we look at placing with other relatives, we look at providing services to parent to resolve issue.” – Public Agency Staff
“I think that the role of government is to be involved with the lives of families to the smallest extent possible. We are a statutory and intrusive agency.” – Public Agency Staff
“We don’t want the kids to come into foster care. We would do anything to keep them out of care. [Even] If we find a relative who wouldn’t make a great foster parent – we just want to keep [child] out of care and with family.” – Public Agency Staff
“I think it’s the agency responsibility to provide resources. I know that it’s hard right now as it relates to money, however, we should always give whatever we can give-support, resources, information, telephone numbers or whatever. I do think it’s our responsibility to do whatever we can.”– Public Agency Staff
“I think any kind of court involvement causes tremendous stress in families’ lives. Once the court’s involved you lose control of your life. Diverted cases can be resolved without the stress of the overhang of court decisions……. Intrusive both on a regulatory basis as well as just being at the mercy of the judge’s decision making.” – Court Personnel
“Foster care…should be for only extreme, extreme cases. Where child cannot function in that
home and needs a more structured environment. Or family has absolutely no options, nothing to offer.” – Public Agency Staff
“We can’t be put in the position. It’s a parental decision to place the children in the relative’s home. That’s what the family partnership meetings are for. We’re there to support but not push the decisions.” – Public Agency Staff
“I think the process has helped us engage the family better. Before….the family [parent] was really hostile towards the CPS worker and say they don’t have any relatives. If that’s how your approach is you don’t get as much information. I feel like the approach has helped engage the family a lot better.” - Public Agency Staff
“The relative has to be aware – sometimes they don’t want the natural parent to see the child – but we stress to them that they will be visiting and we will arrange it with them….We try to make them aware of that right up front. Just because they’re placed there doesn’t mean the mom or dad isn’t going to have any contact.”– Public Agency Staff
“I don’t ever tell a relative that they can become a foster parent. That comes up later as a last resort when we’re at a loss of how to help the situation.” – Public Agency Staff
“It depends on how comfortable we are with the placement, sometimes we may keep open to monitor to make sure they maintain the same level of care and that they’re able to support that child financially. It’s a case by case basis, we don’t always close because of court granting guardianship.” – Public Agency Staff
“I wouldn’t be a foster parent again, I’d ask for no money and I’d take them into my home and care for them. And I’d never give them back.“ - Grandmother
“I don’t think they understand that we’ve raised our kids and we’re starting from scratch. These are not the children we raised – they all came to us with problems we never had to deal with and we have to learn how to deal with [them].” - Grandmother
“They say we stepped up to plate, did a wonderful thing. . . but for them [agency] not to accommodate us in any basic way as far as some basic need which is food. I can’t believe that. I wouldn’t want to be stuck in Louisiana either when Katrina hit because that’s what I’m standing here feeling like most of the time – just left behind.”- Grandmother
“It’s a full time job with the three extra kids. . . having an extra hand, they [private provider] do all the visits. That is so helpful. Don’t get me wrong, the money is great. . . but if I didn’t have somebody to help with the appointments, it doesn’t matter how much money in the world, because when this is over, I still need a job.”-Relative foster parent
“I think that a lot of us have always advocated for investing more in prevention, but the idea of putting more into diversion…that’s the difference. It’s our duty (ethical and legal duty) to try to keep families together. We should try all of the preservation and prevention efforts that we can. But when those fail, that’s where the problem is. There’s no focused amount of resources going into that piece.” - Public Agency Staff
(1) Develop and adopt clear, written state-level policy guidelines and associated training for kin diversion practice.
(2) Provide caseworkers with written/online tools for clients and training on the tools to inform and advise families on benefits and options including:
(3) Build in an accountability process using existing plans to track diversion data statewide through OASIS by including kin diversion in Safe Measures reporting and in the Quality Service Review performance management process.
(4) Provide subsidized guardianship for relatives who obtain custody.