Kids Thrive When They Stay with Family

Published: 9/4/2018

September marks a very important, but often unknown month – Kinship Awareness Month. Some may not be aware of Kinship Care or the vast impact it has on nearly 800 children, roughly 450 families, in Douglas and Sarpy counties alone.

Others, like Jennifer and Stephanie, know it firsthand.

Jennifer, a Kinship Stability Supervisor at PromiseShip, the agency that oversees case management for the foster care system in Douglas and Sarpy counties, was raised in kinship care.

At age 11, Jennifer’s mother passed away unexpectedly. Her father was unable to care for her, so Jennifer entered kinship care. Fortunately, Jennifer’s maternal aunt took her into her home. Despite its challenges, Jennifer is grateful of her aunt’s family raising her as their own.

“Relative and kinship homes are where children should be if it is a safe, viable option because this is where children thrive and feel the most connected,” Jennifer said. “Being able to live with my family after losing my mother definitely had a positive impact on my life and reduced the trauma I experienced as a child.”

Stephanie, Permanency & Family Finding Supervisor at PromiseShip, also reduced the trauma for a family member when she stepped in to take care of her niece. For three years, Stephanie served as a Kinship Caregiver – both formally and informally. Even though Stephanie had been working in the child welfare system, she said providing direct care to a family member was extremely difficult. However, she never once thought twice about taking her niece into her home.

“Becoming a kinship caregiver was never something I had considered doing, but something I never would have turned away from as well,” Stephanie said.

Both Jennifer and Stephanie have been able to apply their past experiences to their current professions knowing that they share a unique bond and insight into the lives of the children and families they serve.

This September, help recognize individuals, like Stephanie, Jennifer and other hundreds of kinship caregivers in our community. Join in the celebration on September 17th at the State Capital as Governor Ricketts signs the first state proclamation declaring September as Kinship Awareness Month in Nebraska!

Other cities joining the effort to bring awareness include Omaha, Ralston, La Vista, Papillion, Bellevue and Springfield. All have signed proclamations declaring September as Kinship Awareness Month.