ACH Child and Family Services’ newly launched Kinship Navigator connects kinship families in Tarrant, Parker, Palo Pinto, Johnson, and Hill counties to a network of resources and education. ACH Child & Family Services (ACH) was one of four organizations around the state funded by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to develop this program, and the Kinship Navigator program is now officially implemented.
This past year, ACH has been reviewing data from a voluntary survey and connecting with kinship families as well as organizations that serve kinship families to build a network of resources to build the Kinship Navigator program.
“Kinship families weren’t prepared like a foster, adoptive, or birth parent—they simply answered the phone and said ‘yes,’ when they were called. They are family taking care of family, stepping up, and doing the right thing with little to no support,” said Chantel Bedlington, ACH Kinship Navigator Program Supervisor.
A kinship family occurs when a grandmother, aunt, uncle, or sibling is raising a family member. Kinship can also occurs when children are placed with a close family friend. Sometimes, the arrangement (referred to as “kinship care”) is an informal, private arrangement between the parents and relative caregivers; in other situations, the State’s child welfare system is involved.
“The Kinship Navigator program helps kinship families with their unique needs and connects them to much-needed resources, support groups, counseling, and more,” said Bedlington.
ACH also developed a guide to help kinship parents navigate their new role: What to Expect When You Weren’t Expecting. The guide teaches them how to get children enrolled in school, what to expect in the licensing process, and how to apply for Medicaid. It will also have recommendations for articles, podcasts, and books on kinship and trauma-informed care.