New LMA Publication: Kinship Care and Child Welfare: New Directions for Policy and Practice
Michele Schmidt, Senior Evaluation Associate at LeCroy & Milligan Associates, recently published an article in Child Welfare, a peer-reviewed journal of the Child Welfare League of America. This article was published in a two-part special issue, Kinship Care and Child Welfare: New Directions for Policy and Practice, that focuses on children in kinship care—those who are being raised by grandparents, aunts and uncles, older siblings, and non-related extended family members. This special issue brings attention to this less visible area of public child welfare, featuring policy-based and empirical research on kinship families. Ms. Schmidt co-authored this article with Julie Treinen who is Program Director of Arizona Kinship Support Services, a kinship navigation program of Arizona’s Children Association. LeCroy & Milligan Associates has provided evaluation services for the AKSS program since 2012. This article presents the key evaluation findings of our three-year demonstration project from 2012-2015, funded by the Children’s Bureau Family Connections Discretionary Grants.
This study examined if kinship navigation services can improve family needs, caregiver self-efficacy, and placement stability of children in the care of their grandparents or other relatives. A total of 63 caregivers and 134 children received navigation services, during a period that ranged from 2 to 23 months, and participated in both baseline and follow-up data collection. The study design utilized a single-group pretest-posttest, using standardized assessment measures administered at baseline (case opening) and at six month increments up to 24 months after case opening to monitor changes in caregiver perceptions over time. Additionally, state child welfare administrative data were used to determine placement stability outcomes of kinship children at the end of the study, September 30, 2015, which covered a period that ranged from seven to 32 months after case opening. Paired samples t-tests showed that caregivers reported a significant decrease in four areas of needs after case closure. None of the areas of caregiver self-efficacy measured showed a statistically significant change, as caregivers reported a high level of self-efficacy at both pre- and post-assessment. Of youth in care, 87% (n=117) remained in a stable placement and 93% (n=125) had no subsequent child welfare investigations. Implications for policy and programming, and recommendations for future research are discussed.
The citation for this article is: Schmidt, M.C., & Treinen, J. (2017). Using kinship navigation services to support the family resource needs, caregiver self-efficacy, and placement stability of children in informal and formal kinship care. Child Welfare, 95(4), 69-89.
LeCroy & Milligan Associates is currently working with AKSS to conduct a randomized controlled trial that compares outcomes of children and families who are randomized into a treatment group and receive Kinship Navigation services plus Family Group Decision Making services, and those who are randomized into a comparison group who receive Kinship Navigation services as usual. This study is funded by the Children’s Bureau from 2015-2018, and we look forward to sharing the results of this study in future publications and conference presentations.