Almost 50% of kids in WA foster care live with a relative or kinship caregiver other than their parent, but according to a 2018 DCYF report, only approximately 7.5 percent of kinship caregivers are licensed. This means that the majority of kinship caregivers do not receive a DCYF stipend. Even more children are being raised by relatives without having entered foster care – more than 40,000 across WA state.
Kinship caregivers, licensed or unlicensed, are welcome in foster parent support groups and events, and if a child is placed by DCYF they will be eligible for almost all programs for foster children.
Assistance and Support
There are multiple assistance programs and support groups intended to help these families, who often have different needs to licensed foster families. Around WA state there are groups providing support groups, system navigation assistance, education and financial assistance.
- Resources for Tribal caregivers
- DSHS Kinship care resources
- DCYF Kinship resources
- Kinship Care Legal Aid Coordinator
- Informing Families – a resource for families caring for a disabled relative
Regional support groups and services
- Pierce County: Hope Sparks
- King County:
- King County Kinship Collaboration (support groups)
- Women United, Seattle (read about them in Crosscut)
- Thurston/Mason/Lewis Counties
- Family Education and Support Services (also in Spanish)
- Clallam, Greys Harbor, Jefferson and Pacific Counties
- Kinship Caregiver Support Program (KCSP) & Relatives As Parents (RAP) with the Olympic Area Agency on Aging
- Island, Whatcom, San Juan and Skagit counties
- Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, Lincoln and Okanogan Counties
- Ferry, Stevens, Pend Oreille, and Whitman Counties
- Spokane County
- Spokane Kinship Caregiver Support Group and Kinship Navigator, with Frontier Health
Kinship Providers (licensed & unlicensed) can take all classes provided by the UW Alliance for Child Welfare. See their training page for courses and class schedules.
There is an introductory course specifically for kinship providers, that can be taken as a webinar or as a personal coaching session – Kinship 101: Information for Relatives and Suitable Others (webinar)
Recognition: “Voices of Children Raised by Grandparents and Other Relatives”
An annual competition run by Family Education and Support Services, for WA children who are being raised now or in the past by a relative other than their parents. See the DCYF Caregiver Connection newsletter for announcements.