There are two kinship programs available through the Children's Aid Society of St. Thomas and Elgin - Kinship Service and Kinship Care. Both programs are designed to allow children to be placed in the care of people they know, often members of their extended family and/or other members of the child's community support group - someone the child is familiar with. Kinship options are always explored for children who are in need of protection, prior to having a child placed in foster or group care situations.
Kinship Services (out of care)
Kinship Service is typically the first and least intrusive option for children deemed "in need of protection"; children who are no longer able to reside in their biological family home due to safety concerns. Kinship Service is different from Kinship Care in that the child is not brought into the care of the Society as a "child in care". Kinship Service is considered a less intrusive measure because it does not require a child to be brought into the care of the Society - which is generally a better option for children and families.
When the custodial caregivers of a child - typically their biological parent(s) - are having problems and cannot safely care for a child, it can be extremely difficult for that child to be placed in foster care. Despite the safety and excellent care they receive in a foster home, the placement is still with people who are strangers to the child. Living with kin - people the child is comfortable and connected with - can make this difficult time easier for a child. You can read on to find out more information about how you can help a child you know who is in this situation.
Kinship Services - How can I help?
There may be a time when a child that is close to you or related to you needs a home because the regular caregivers cannot care for that child safely and adequately in the family home. If you have been asked to take a child who you know into your home, a Kinship Services Worker will get in touch with you and begin a process of assessing whether your home environment and the people living in it can provide safe and competent care to a child in need of protection.
No one has contacted me but I think I can help!
If you believe there is a situation where you could help as a kinship caregiver, please call the CAS at 519-631-1492 or 1-800-260-6960 and ask for the Kinship/Resources Department. During the initial contact, all information about a child will be confidential but the Society will take your name and have a worker contact you. Once you have agreed to work with the CAS in confidence, a worker will lead you through the Kinship Services process and will be there to support both you, your family and the child(ren).
- Kinship Service allows child welfare agencies to provide services that ensure child safety in circumstances where the child is not in the care of an agency and remains within his/her family or community.
- Staff screen and assess prospective extended family or community caregivers to evaluate the capacity of the family or community member to care for the child in a safe home environment.
- Whenever possible, the assessment takes place before the child moves into the kinship home.
- It includes completing criminal record and child welfare records checks on any person over the age of 18 living in the home, a personal interview with the proposed caregiver, a private interview with the child (depending on the child's age and developmental capacity), and a thorough assessment of the home environment.
- New provincial kinship service standards are intended to meet the safety needs of children and to promote permanency for children who receive child protection services and are being cared for by members of their extended family or community.
- They are intended to result in care and support that is consistent with family and community traditions for children unable to remain with their family because of protection concerns.
Kinship Care (in care)
Kinship Care is another type of substitute care available to children who are in need of protection. Unlike Kinship Service, a child placed in a Kinship Care home is brought into the care of the Society and is officially a "child in care". Bringing a child into the care of the Society is a more intrusive measure - and provides a different level of service for the child. It also requires a more intensive assessment phase and level of assessment and training for the alternate caregiver/family.
The decision to pursue a Kinship Care placement rather than Kinship Service is typically driven by the protection needs of the child. Nevertheless, and despite being more intrusive than Kinship Service arrangements, Kinship Care provides a familiar home for the child and is a good alternative to foster care for some children. In these situations, the Society becomes the child's legal guardian and assumes the rights and responsibilities associated with being a child's guardian.
Kinship Care - Benefits of Kinship
Children can live with people who they know and trust and who have some connection to their family of origin. The integrity of the family's culture, history, and ethnic identity is supported. Children may be able to remain within their own community, or continue to have a connection to their community through family and friends. As such, the child's sense of belonging to a family is maintained and is often enhanced.
What do I have to do?
For a child in care of the CAS to be placed in your home, your family must successfully complete the Ontario SAFE Home Study process and complete the PRIDE training for new Foster Parents. Children's Aid Societies in Ontario are required to use this process to approve a home as a licensed Foster Home.
How do I get Started?
If you or someone you know would like to provide a home for a child in the care and custody of the Society, please call us at (519) 631-1492 or 1-800-260-6960 and ask for the Kinship/Resources Department.
- Kinship Care is provided for children who are in the care of a child welfare agency and are placed with a member of their extended family or community.
- The standard for assessing and preparing prospective kinship care families is the same as that for evaluating all foster or adoptive caregiver applicants.
- Families are thoroughly assessed using a process and tools called SAFE (Structured Analysis Family Evaluation) that assists in determining their capacity to meet a child's needs for safety, well being, and permanence.
- Families also participate in an intensive 27-hour preparation program called PRI