Recruiting and Engaging Family as Kinship Carers

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At the heart of KICS’ mission lies a focus on recognising family as the most important aspect in the life of a child. We place an emphasis on identifying, connecting with, and engaging families to be kinship carers for children where it is appropriate. This places families at the centre of decision-making, valuing their expertise and nurturing a collaborative environment.

Kinship carers hold a vital role in providing care, love, and stability to children in need, ensuring a nurturing environment within their extended families. We know family is foundational to safeguarding the well-being of children and young people.

Expanding family engagement in kinship care involves outreach, trust-building, and support. Dr. Annaley Clarke’s Ph.D. research delved into Kinship Care Stability shedding light on family roles in caring for children on statutory child protection orders in Australia.

The research highlights what we already know about the importance of engaging and recruiting families as kinship carers.  Families are pivotal to providing strong, supportive networks around children in care, giving them feelings of being connected, having an identity, and a sense of belonging.  Families want to meet the needs of the child[ren] in care and be a stabilising factor in their life.

For professionals, the engagement and recruitment of Kinship Carers represent a key element aimed at nurturing strong and supportive family networks for children and young people in out-of-home care.    An understanding of the perception around kinship care is imperative to moving forward with developing effective engagement of statutory kinship carers.

Dr Annaley Clarke, Chief Operating Officer at Infinity Community Solutions Ltd says “It’s important that agencies deliberately and actively reach out to families when children can’t live with their Mum or Dad.  We know families want to be involved and we can play a key role in engaging them in ways so that they are recognised as the expert in their own lives and be involved in the lives of the children.”

Engagement and recruitment using the Family Partnership Model (FPM) begins with communication and outreach that builds rapport and trust.  However, what stands KICS apart in its ability to make a difference, is starting from a position of knowing families want to be a part of the lives of the children.

Haylee Harrison Lomas, a KICS Support Worker, echoes Dr. Clarke, stating, “Our strength lies in knowing that families want to be engaged, and this is our forte at KICS.”

“When we work with families, we take a non-judgemental approach, listen to their stories with respect, and support them to use their voice to champion on behalf of the child.” continues Haylee, “We are there to support them to feel safe and to help them speak up when they feel they are not being heard.”

“Our job is to help them navigate a really difficult system.” Adds Dr. Clarke, “When we sit in the space of using the FPM and understand that we are not the expert, the family is the authority of their own decision-making, we are in a good place”.

Engaging families as statutory kinship carers is a transformative approach that resonates with empowerment, collaboration, and respect.  Knowing that families care and want to be involved in the lives of their children, recruitment and engaging them requires actively identifying and reaching out using a partnership-based approach.

KICS Kinship and Foster Care Service (KICS KFC) is a child and young person centred, whole of family focused out of home care service resting on the foundation practice framework of the Family Partnership Model (FPM).  This model provides out of home care support while maintaining a whole of family lens focused on wellbeing, attachment and bonding through case management and the application of family led decision making principles.  Our team will work collaboratively with the whole family including parents, grandparents, and extended family, to secure a stable and enduring kinship and foster care placement while it is required.