We are excited that September has been named Kinship Awareness Month this year for the first time ever in Nebraska. The month of September is a time to honor and recognize Kinship Care, promoting awareness to those who play such a valuable role in supporting children in Nebraska.

Kinship Care is the name given to foster parents who take in children they know – these can be relatives, neighbors, church members or family friends, for example. 

According to PromiseShip, 61% of kids placed out of their family home are placed with relatives or kinship placements. This number has increased significantly in the last 10 years. Currently, around 800 children in Douglas and Sarpy counties are placed in Kinship Foster Care. 

At Release, we know that relative and kinship homes are the first choice of where children should be if they cannot be at home with their parents. Children report feeling most connected when in these homes, and remain most stable.

Through the addition of our foster care program, Release has started serving relative and kinship foster parents. Since April 2018, we have been honored to walk alongside 12 different kinship placements with a total of 24 kids. We enter into a family home to meet them where they’re at, and to build a plan to ensure they feel supported taking additional children in to their home. 

Sometimes, this has meant hugging a grandmother, exhausted from now parenting her three grandchildren. 

Sometimes, this has meant talking a family friend through a crisis situation so that she wouldn’t feel alone. 

Sometimes, this has meant helping a grandmother take the trash out of her home, as she’s been too overwhelmed to do this on her own. 

Many times, this has meant connecting a family to community resources – we’ve been blessed to have church volunteers mow kinship homes lawns, a church group provide them with freezer meals, and have located so many community members jump up to provide clothes, beds and bedding to families taking in more children. 

Many times, this has meant just listening to a relative express their fears and challenges with changing their role to being the primary caretaker. 

Many times, this has meant attending a team meeting to help advocate for a relative placement, and to help explain the system to them. 

We are so appreciative of what these relatives and kinship care providers are doing for the children in their lives, and we realize it is no easy task to undertake. We are grateful for the opportunity to get to know these families and to be a small part of their journey toward providing safe and loving homes for children in our community.