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Support group launches for “kinship” caregivers

Kinship care means a family member supports the daily needs of a relative’s minor child, and their ranks are growing.

More than 43,000 people in the state care for a relative’s minor child – as grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and older siblings – some temporarily and others for the long haul. In Spokane, a new support group is forming so kinship caregivers can meet to share experiences.

The relatives step in when parents are unwilling or unable to provide care, said Patricia Robinson, with the Kinship Navigator program in Spokane that connects caregivers to resources. She said reasons include parental substance abuse, neglect, homelessness or that parents are deceased.

“Since last year, I’ve seen about a 30 percent increase for the number of people I’m providing caregiver support to,” Robinson said. Some are in their 20s up to 80-something grandparents.

Several of these Spokane caregivers have asked for a support group, she said. Frontier Behavior Health and Elder Services administers the kinship support program.

The first Spokane Kinship Caregiver Support Group meeting is scheduled from 10:30 a.m. to noon on Nov. 14 at the Frontier branch in Hillyard, 5125 N. Market St. It might include a topic, but members mainly can seek peer support and share situations or questions, Robinson said.

“For the support group, we want it to be really welcoming to anybody who is a relative caregiver of children,” Robinson said. “We have kinship programs throughout state, and a support group also is considered a best practice for people in this situation.”

The program also funds a small amount of financial support for kinship caregivers, based on income and other factors. But Robinson said the program helps any kinship caregiver needing to find services, such as a teen clothing closet or legal support.

“Our program steps in to support those families,” Robinson said. “They don’t necessarily have to have custody. They can be raising children with parental consent. Each case is unique.”

The support meetings for now won’t include child care, so members will gather for sessions on the second Wednesday of each month from 10:30 a.m. to noon when most kids are in school. Robinson said people can call with questions, or to RSVP for the support group, at (509) 458-7450, ext. 4.


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