122 Children’s Legal Rights Journal [Vol. 39: 1 2019]
services.165 Supportive services must be flexible to meet the needs of the kinship caregivers
involved. Curriculum such as the Relatives as Parents Program166 may provide guidelines to launch
kinship support programs. Other support groups for kinship caregivers may be led by social
workers or other mental health professionals. To increase access to and utilization of support
groups, provision of childcare assistance is recommended while the kinship caregiver participates
in the support group.
Yet another approach to providing support to kinship caregivers is through a telephone
service. The “warmline” model, discussed previously, could easily be added to a centralized
Kinship Navigator line to be ready to lend a listening and supportive ear to a kinship caregiver
near crisis. This model could simply require one on-call kinship care provider who agrees to be
available to patch into the Kinship Navigator call center when their services are needed. A kinship
care provider who agrees to participate in this mentoring service could even be on a volunteer
basis and would provide the kinship caregivers who are calling with a sense of community and
connectedness through a realization that they are not alone and others have experienced similar
challenges. Facebook or other social networking sites can also be used to provide online forums
where kinship caregivers can come together to share their struggles, successes, and tips.
Interpersonal connections can help provide validation for all care providers, and it would behoove
California to utilize tools readily and inexpensively available to foster connections amongst
In addition to support groups for the kinship caregivers, children placed in kinship care
could also benefit from supportive group services. To increase accessibility to these services,
groups could be provided in schools and in communities where children in kinship care reside in
large numbers. One example is the Banana Splits group model that was utilized with elementary
school-aged children living with a grandparent.167 These types of support groups can provide
children the support they need.
D. Mental Health Assessment
Mental health screening and assessments are an important component for healthy
adjustment for children in kinship care. Children in foster care, including kinship care, have a
greater need for psychological assessment and intervention than children in the general
population.168 Youth in foster care are challenged to cope with the adverse events that necessitated
out of home placement such as neglect, abuse, parental substance abuse, parental incarceration,
etc. Additionally, youth in foster care struggle to negotiate transitions to out-of-home care, even if
it is with a familiar family member.169 The Casey Family Foundation conducted a literature review
of youth in foster care and found that 50-75% of youth entering foster care had emotional, social,
165 BERT HAYSLIP JR. ET AL., GROUP LEADERS’ PERCEPTIONS OF INTERVENTIONS WITH GRANDPARENT CAREGIVERS:
CONTENT AND PROCESS 5 (2015), https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5042342/pdf/nihms-783214.pdf.
166 BROOKDALE FOUNDATION, supra note 163.
167 STACEY KOLOMER ET AL., SCHOOL-BASED SUPPORT GROUP INTERVENTION FOR CHILDREN IN THE CARE OF THEIR
GRANDPARENTS 253 (Bert Hayslip, Jr. & Patricia Kaminski eds., 2008).
168 Joanne Grayson, Mental Health Needs of Foster Children and Children at Risk of Removal, CHILD, YOUTH & FAM.
NEWS 1, 2 (Winter 2012).
169 Hillen T. Gafson, Why Good Placements Matter: Pre-Placement and Placement Risk Factors Associated with
Mental Health Disorders in Preschool Children in Foster Care, 20 CLINICAL CHILD PSYCHOL. & PSYCHIATRY 3, 486