For many individuals raising their relative’s children, a loss of control and lack of empowerment are fundamental issues. While the situations surrounding the need for the kinship care relationship may be overwhelming and traumatic, it is important for caregivers to re-establish or maintain some level of empowerment in order to best take care of themselves and the children in their homes.
Imagine for a moment you receive a call early in the morning. It is the Department of Family Services, and they are asking if you can care for your two grandchildren who have been removed from their parents care the previous night due to allegations of neglect.. How will you raise two children in your small one bedroom apartment? You have retired, so where will the additional funds come from? How will you enroll them in school, and what if they need medical care? Will you be eligible for foster payments? Your relationship with your grandchildren’s parents has been rocky for years due to their erratic lifestyle- how will you cope with the additional stress of raising their children? What will your friends think as your lifestyle dramatically changes in order to parent a second time at an older age? Eventually, you may be faced with the decision to adopt your grandchildren.
A sense of power can diminish when circumstances get out of control. Parenting your relative’s children is no doubt one of those times when power can easily be stripped from the caregiver, as even the most “powerful” individual can begin to doubt their own skills and abilities. A major factor affecting powerlessness is not having the resources necessary for solving problems. In the common example above, the caregiver can improve their sense of power and control if they understand the resources available to them and the options they have in each system they will encounter. Knowing what those systems are and who to speak to in order to feel heard will increase empowerment. In addition, increasing communication and listening skills in order to advocate for their needs and the needs of their grandchildren will improve their ability to care for their family.
Foster Kinship can assist new relative caregivers with resources and contacts in each system, and is here to listen to their needs and work together to improve the outcomes for their families. Each situation is different, and that is why Foster Kinship will take the time to really understand each family and work to direct them to the right kinship resources- both in Clark County and nationally. In addition, our support groups can connect caregivers with others in similar situations. By increasing the access to resources necessary to solve problems, individuals will be enabled to work more effectively to influence or change the things which are bothering or blocking them.