My Grandma Is My Mommy Who Chose Me

photo of a smiling grandmother and granddaughter outdoors

“My grandma is my mommy who chose me.” So says Ms. Shirley’s seven-year-old granddaughter who came to live with her six years ago when her birth parents could no longer care for her. Instead of going into the state child welfare system, the grandmother’s home was determined to be the best place for the seven-year-old to stay connected to her family, community, and culture.

Because her granddaughter is not connected to the child welfare system, Ms. Shirley has less access to formal resources and supports. This family is not unique in Washington state—more than 40,000 family members are raising a relative’s child, which we refer to that as “kinship care.” Luckily, Ms. Shirley connected to Catholic Community Services’ Kinship Program.

The Kinship Program includes the Kinship Navigator for King County as well as the King County Kinship Collaboration (KCKC). KCKC was formed to support kinship caregivers like Ms. Shirley. Thanks to support from Aging and Disability Services, KCKC has strengthened the network of supports available to kinship caregivers, especially those who have no involvement with the state’s child welfare system. Some of these supports include groups like the one that Ms. Shirley attends. A Kinship Navigator helps relatives with emergent needs and referrals, an overnight retreat just for kinship families, and other events, classes, and services for relatives.

Read more of this article in the April 2018 issue of AgeWise King County (click here) …