Partners for Our Children (P4C) is pleased to announce continued evaluation funding of an enhanced Kinship Navigation program for kinship caregivers and the children in their care. Washington state was awarded federal funding of $271,742 to support evaluation and outreach efforts to promote the Kinship Navigation model across the state. P4C received $159,000 from the Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) for our fourth year of continued efforts.

Initial evaluation results suggest slightly higher reported caregiver wellbeing in the enhanced service sites compared to the service as usual sites. Angelique Day, PI for the evaluation, explains: “Caregivers in the enhanced service sites are more likely to report improved health, wellbeing, and life enjoyment since participating in kinship care services and activities. We believe these results are attributed to the enhanced service model. The model requires navigators to more thoroughly assess caregivers’ needs and refer them to appropriate services that can meet their needs, rather than relying on the caregiver to tell the navigator what they need.”

Enhanced Kinship Navigator Model: Designed by P4C
Existing kinship navigator programs across the state require caregivers to initiate services and ask navigators for service referrals as needed, rather than being provided with a comprehensive needs assessment and scheduled follow ups with the navigator. In late 2018 and early 2019, P4C designed an enhanced Kinship Navigator model, now implemented in seven pilot counties across the state. The enhanced program serves both formal and informal kinship caregivers. Formal caregivers are involved with the state’s child welfare department and informal caregivers are raising their kinship child outside of the jurisdiction of DCYF. Whether formal or informal, caregivers who are part of the pilot program receive intensive short-term case management services intended to assess their unmet needs as a caregiver, assist caregivers in setting achievable goals, and linking caregivers with appropriate services and supports in the community.

In the fourth year, which extends through September 30th, 2022, Partners for Our Children will work with DSHS-Aging and Long Term Supports Administration (ALTSA) to evaluate the impact of the enhanced case management model on caregivers and children in the seven pilot sites. Specifically, P4C will compare children’s safety and permanency outcomes six-months after case closure with children whose caregiver received services as usual. P4C will also evaluate caregivers’ self-reported health and wellbeing throughout the intervention. If the program results in significant improvements for caregivers and their children, it could become the first evidence-based kinship navigation program that serves both formal and informal caregivers.

Additional activities in the fourth year include a statewide outreach campaign educating kinship navigators and other service providers about the needs of kinship caregivers, the kinship navigator program, and service pathways for caregivers. P4C will also develop a comprehensive training curriculum for kinship caregivers that will include information to help caregivers better understand and provide support for the children in their care.

If the evaluation demonstrates significant impact on caregivers and their children, Washington state will have the opportunity to submit the results to the Title IV-E Prevention Services Clearinghouse for consideration by September 2023. If admitted into the Clearinghouse as an evidence-based practice, Kinship Navigator Programs throughout the United States will be eligible for federal funding to support operations rather than relying on state and private funding alone.