In February 2018, the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) was signed into federal law as part of the Bipartisan Act of 2018. Part of the new law allows Title IV-E monies to help establish, evaluate, or maintain kinship navigator programs. Kinship navigator programs connect relatives raising children with federal, state, and community resources. These programs can help caregivers achieve greater stability and self-sufficiency and help keep the children out of the formal foster care system.

The following document is a compilation and summary of the November 30th 2018 Program Instruction (ACYF-CB-PI-18-11) and the January 8th 2019 Program Instruction, as released by the federal Administration for Children and Families.  This document details the requirements for participating in the Title IV-E Kinship Navigator Program. Funds and the application process mirror the 2018 Kinship Navigator Program.  Last year, 46 states, eight tribes, and two territories applied for this grant. These jurisdictions are encouraged to apply for 2019 funds. All programs must meet evidence-based requirements in order to qualify for funding. Those who are preparing proposals should take note of these special provisions on Kinship Navigators as identified by the FFPSA to ensure that they are in compliance with the law.

          Below, we highlight the program instructions with regard to: program requirements, program and study eligibility criteria, study design elements, and practice rating criteria. We hope that this information is helpful to all who are preparing applications for the second year Kinship Navigator grant funding, and helpful in ultimately maximizing the impact of kinship navigator programs  For more information about the Kinship Navigator grant: www.grandfamilies.org/Resources/Kinship-Navigator-Programs

Title IV-E Kinship Navigator Program

ACYF-PI-18-11: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/cb/pi1811.pdf

Program Requirements, Program and Study Eligibility, Study Design, and Practice Rating Criteria

Title IV-E agencies must assure that its Kinship Navigator (KN) program meets the requirements described in section 427(a)(1) of the Act, as follows:

(1) a kinship navigator program to assist kinship caregivers in learning about, finding, and using programs and services to meet the needs of the children they are raising and their own needs, and to promote effective partnerships among public and private agencies to ensure kinship caregiver families are served, which program—

(A) shall be coordinated with other State or local agencies that promote service coordination or provide information and referral services, including the entities that provide 2–1–1 or 3–1–1 information systems where available, to avoid duplication or fragmentation of services to kinship care families;

(B) shall be planned and operated in consultation with kinship caregivers and organizations representing them, youth raised by kinship caregivers, relevant government agencies, and relevant community-based or faith based organizations;

(C) shall establish information and referral systems that link (via toll-free access) kinship caregivers, kinship support group facilitators, and kinship service providers to—

(i) each other;

(ii) eligibility and enrollment information for Federal, State, and local benefits;

(iii)relevant training to assist kinship caregivers in caregiving and in obtaining

benefits and services; and

(iv)relevant legal assistance and help in obtaining legal services.

(D) shall provide outreach to kinship care families, including by establishing, distributing, and updating a kinship care website, or other relevant guides or outreach materials;

(E) shall promote partnerships between public and private agencies, including schools, community based or faith-based organizations, and relevant government agencies, to increase their knowledge of the needs of kinship care families and other individuals who are willing and able to be foster parents for children in foster care under the responsibility of the State who are themselves parents to promote better services for those families;

(F) may establish and support a kinship care ombudsman with authority to intervene and help kinship caregivers access services; and

(G)may support any other activities designed to assist kinship caregivers in obtaining benefits and services to improve their caregiving.

Title IV-E Prevention Services Clearinghouse will determine eligibility of Kinship Navigator (KN) programs for review and will rate programs and services as promising, supported, and well-supported practices:

1.      Program Eligibility Criteria. The kinship navigator program is in use and has a book, manual, or other available documentation that specifies the components of the practice protocol and describes how to administer the practice.

2.      Study Eligibility Criteria. The study of the KN program will be limited to studies included in peer-reviewed journal articles and/or publicly available literature that may include, but is not limited to federal, state, and local government and foundation reports.

3.      Study Design. The study of the KN program will be limited to study designs that assess effectiveness (i.e., impact) using quantitative methods and utilize an appropriate control. Eligible study designs include Randomized Controlled Trials (RCT), Quasi-Experimental Designs (QED), and other non-experimental designs that utilize an appropriate control.

4.      Target Outcomes. The study of the KN program will need to examine the impact of the service or program on at least one ‘target outcome’.  Target outcomes may include child safety, child permanency, child well-being, and adult (parent and kin caregiver) well-being. KN program may also have a target outcome of access to, referral to, and satisfaction with services and programs.

5.      Study Prioritization Criteria. The order and depth of review for studies will be determined on the basis of study features that may include sample size, duration of sustained effects examined, and type of study design.

6.      Study Rating Criteria. Clearinghouse will assess studies on the basis of:

a)      study design,

b)      overall and differential sample attrition,

c)       the equivalence of intervention and comparison groups at baseline (as applicable), and when necessary, procedures accounting for clustering.

d)      the study must account for confounding factors

e)      the study must examine at least one “target outcome” a measure that is reliable and achieves face validity.

7.      Study Design and Execution. Effects. The following effects, defined using conventional standards of statistical significance, will be examined in the full analysis sample for studies that achieve a “high” or “moderate” rating on Study Design and Execution.

a). Favorable Effects. The KN program study will be rated based on whether they demonstrate at least one meaningful favorable effect (i.e., positive statistically significant effect) on a ‘target outcome.’

b) Unfavorable Effects. The KN program study will be rated based on the number of unfavorable effects (i.e., negative significant effects) on either ‘target’ or non-target outcomes.

c) Sustained Favorable Effect. Studies with at least one meaningful favorable effect on a ‘target outcome’ will be rated on whether or not they demonstrate a favorable effect sustained beyond the end of treatment. Studies will be classified as not demonstrating a sustained favorable effect (i.e., effects are demonstrated for less than 6 months), demonstrating a sustained favorable effect of 6 months or more (but less than 12 months), or demonstrating a sustained favorable effect of 12 months or more.

8.      Service or Program Rating Criteria.

a)   Promising Practice: A KN program has to at least meet the promising practice criteria.

To be rated as a ‘promising practice’ the service or program has at least one study that achieves a rating of ‘moderate’ or ‘high’ on Study Design and Execution and demonstrates a favorable effect on at least one ‘target outcome.’

b)   Supported Practice: A service or program will be rated as a ‘supported practice’ if the service or program has

·       at least one study carried out in a usual care or practice setting that achieves a rating of ‘moderate’ or ‘high’ on Study Design and Execution and

·       demonstrates a sustained favorable effect of at least 6 months beyond the end of treatment on at least one target outcome

c)     Well-Supported Practice: A service or program will be rated as a ‘well-supported practice’ if the service or program has

·       at least two studies with non-overlapping analytic samples carried out in a usual care or practice setting that achieve a rating of ‘moderate’ or ‘high’ on Study Design and Execution.

·       At least one of the studies must demonstrate a sustained favorable effect of at least 12 months beyond the end of treatment on at least one target outcome.

9.  In accordance with the Family First Prevention Services Act, a service or program will not be rated as a ‘promising,’ ‘supported,’ or ‘well-supported practice’ if there is an empirical basis, as evidenced by multiple unfavorable effects on target or non-target outcomes across reviewed studies that suggest the overall weight of evidence does not support the benefits of the service or program.