A Family First Q & A: Apply for Federal Kinship Funds by July 20

Posted June 21, 2018
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
State agencies can apply for federal kinship navigator funds by July 20, 2018.

Do you have or wish to devel­op a kin­ship nav­i­ga­tor program?

The fed­er­al Admin­is­tra­tion for Chil­dren and Fam­i­lies is accept­ing appli­ca­tions from all states for the first of two fund­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties for state child wel­fare agen­cies to strength­en and eval­u­ate exist­ing kin­ship nav­i­ga­tor pro­grams or devel­op new ones. To apply, child wel­fare agen­cies must file sim­ple, stream­lined appli­ca­tions with the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment quick­ly — by July 20, 2018. Learn more about sub­mit­ting an application.

The Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion is shar­ing this Q & A to pro­vide data and back­ground so more juris­dic­tions are pre­pared to ben­e­fit from this chance to help chil­dren thrive in kin families.

The Casey Foun­da­tion is excit­ed about this grow­ing com­mit­ment to kin­ship care, begin­ning with the his­toric enact­ment of the Fam­i­ly First Pre­ven­tion Ser­vices Act in Feb­ru­ary and rein­forced with kin­ship nav­i­ga­tion funds that were includ­ed in the 2018 fed­er­al bud­get,” says Rob Geen, direc­tor of pol­i­cy reform and advo­ca­cy at the Foundation.

Expand­ing kin­ship care has been a key Casey pri­or­i­ty for one sim­ple rea­son,” says Tracey Feild, direc­tor of the Foundation’s Child Wel­fare Strat­e­gy Group. Kin­ship care is bet­ter for kids. Every kid needs a fam­i­ly — and when they can’t be with their par­ents, kids are often bet­ter off when they live with fam­i­ly mem­bers who pro­vide the love, con­ti­nu­ity, sta­bil­i­ty and cul­tur­al con­nec­tions kids need. Imple­ment­ing kin­ship nav­i­ga­tor pro­grams can go a long way toward estab­lish­ing effec­tive kin care poli­cies in your agency.”

How much mon­ey does the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment have avail­able for kin­ship nav­i­ga­tor pro­grams in 2018?

Amounts avail­able vary by state, from an esti­mat­ed $206,630 allot­ted for Wyoming to more than $1 mil­lion for Cal­i­for­nia. Esti­mat­ed state amounts are list­ed in the pro­gram guid­ance; funds will be avail­able by Sept. 302018.

How does the appli­ca­tion process work?

It’s a stream­lined process. The appli­ca­tion, due July 20, 2018, requires 1) sub­mis­sion of a bud­get request form; and 2) a brief pro­gram nar­ra­tive out­lin­ing pro­posed activ­i­ties. It does not require a fund­ing match.

Why kin­ship navigation?

Kin­ship nav­i­ga­tor pro­grams link kin­ship fam­i­lies with resources to meet their needs. These pro­grams coor­di­nate efforts among pub­lic agen­cies and edu­cate work­ers and fam­i­lies about eli­gi­bil­i­ty require­ments. We hear a lot of con­cern about the lack of ser­vices and resources to help kin care­givers meet children’s needs,” says Alli­son Blake, who is lead­ing the Foundation’s Fam­i­ly First work. Casey believes kin­ship nav­i­ga­tion pro­grams can help states sig­nif­i­cant­ly bol­ster their direct ser­vices con­tin­u­um for all kin­ship fam­i­lies. This includes those car­ing for chil­dren in fos­ter care, along with those car­ing for chil­dren as an alter­na­tive to cus­tody or with no child wel­fare involve­ment.” Blake — who for­mer­ly served as com­mis­sion­er of the New Jer­sey Depart­ment of Chil­dren and Fam­i­lies before join­ing Casey as a senior fel­low — notes that com­pre­hen­sive kin­ship nav­i­ga­tion pro­grams often include assess­ment, direct ser­vices, refer­ral to ser­vices and peer sup­port groups, among oth­er components.

What are kin­ship nav­i­ga­tor fund­ing mechanisms?

Con­gress recent­ly pro­vid­ed two fund­ing paths:

  • Fis­cal Year 2018 appro­pri­a­tions. The fed­er­al gov­ern­ment has allo­cat­ed $20 mil­lion for all states and tribes oper­at­ing a Title IV‑E pro­gram. This is the oppor­tu­ni­ty that requires an appli­ca­tion by the July 20, 2018 dead­line. For this round of fund­ing, kin­ship nav­i­ga­tor pro­grams do not need to meet stan­dards of evi­dence set forth in the Fam­i­ly First Act. How­ev­er, funds should be used to install, enhance or build evi­dence for such pro­grams, as evi­dence will be required to qual­i­fy for Title IV‑E fund­ing as of Oct. 12018.
  • Fam­i­ly First. This leg­is­la­tion allows states to claim Title IV‑E fund­ing at a 50% match rate for kin­ship nav­i­ga­tor pro­grams. Pro­grams will need to meet evi­dence stan­dards of promis­ing, sup­port­ed or well sup­port­ed, although these terms have yet to be defined in detail. Guid­ance should be avail­able from the U.S. Depart­ment of Health and Human Ser­vices at some point in the future.

Which kin­ship nav­i­ga­tor pro­grams meet the stan­dards of evi­dence spec­i­fied in Fam­i­ly First?

There is a two-fold chal­lenge to receiv­ing the 50% match for Fam­i­ly First kin­ship nav­i­ga­tion pro­grams. One is that there are cur­rent­ly few pro­grams with an evi­dence base; the oth­er is the ques­tion of how the law’s evi­dence stan­dard — mod­eled on the cri­te­ria of the well-respect­ed Cal­i­for­nia Evi­dence-Based Clear­ing­house for Child Wel­fare (CEBC­CW) — will be interpreted.

Today, the CEBC­CW does not include a kin­ship nav­i­ga­tor pro­gram with an evi­dence rat­ing but pro­grams and rat­ings may be added in the near future. For exam­ple: We are aware of a kin­ship nav­i­ga­tor pro­gram at the Children’s Home Net­work in Flori­da that has been eval­u­at­ed and may meet the evi­dence stan­dard,” says Jen­nifer Miller of Child­Fo­cus, a Casey con­sul­tant and kin care expert. The pro­gram is devel­op­ing an imple­men­ta­tion man­u­al and will apply short­ly to be added to the database.

There may be oth­er path­ways to meet­ing the evi­dence-based stan­dards. There are lots of pro­grams not in the clear­ing­house that states could make a good case for being promis­ing,” says Geen. It may be that evi­dence-based, nav­i­ga­tor-type pro­grams from oth­er fields — such as juve­nile jus­tice or men­tal health — can be adapt­ed to child wel­fare to meet the standards.”

How can agen­cies build effec­tive pro­grams for kin care­givers, giv­en this uncertainty?

A: My advice is to think about how you can use this fund­ing to do bet­ter by your kin care­givers, whether by start­ing new sup­port pro­grams, improv­ing your cur­rent approach or eval­u­at­ing your most promis­ing approach­es,” says Blake. Casey suggests:

  • Move beyond infor­ma­tion and refer­ral to direct ser­vices. Cer­tain­ly, kin care­givers need to know how to access ser­vices, ben­e­fits, infor­ma­tion about legal options and more. But kin­ship nav­i­ga­tor pro­grams can be much more com­pre­hen­sive and help­ful,” says Miller, who points to the ben­e­fits of pro­vid­ing assess­ment of chil­dren and care­giv­er needs, direct and con­crete ser­vices to help kin care­givers cope, peer-to-peer sup­port groups and trau­ma-informed ser­vices for care­givers and children.
  • Cre­ate more com­mu­ni­ty-based approach­es. Kin fam­i­lies are often under­stand­ably fear­ful of ask­ing for help from a pub­lic child wel­fare agency. We encour­age pub­lic agen­cies to con­sid­er using com­mu­ni­ty-based orga­ni­za­tions as ser­vice providers,” says Blake. Kin­ship care­givers and chil­dren may find it eas­i­er to trust those famil­iar, local groups.”
  • Serve chil­dren inside and out­side fos­ter care. Kin­ship nav­i­ga­tion mon­ey is not lim­it­ed to chil­dren in fos­ter care. For juris­dic­tions that place chil­dren with kin as an alter­na­tive to fos­ter care (a prac­tice also called diver­sion), this pro­vides an oppor­tu­ni­ty to meet care­giv­er needs and safe­ly pre­vent fos­ter care entry.
  • Cre­ate a kin ombuds­man. We were pleased to see kin­ship ombuds­man’ as a pos­si­ble use of the 2018 Fam­i­ly First funds,” says Geen. This is a great oppor­tu­ni­ty to hire a ded­i­cat­ed staff per­son to over­see all kin­ship care pol­i­cy and prac­tice in the state, shore up kin­ship phi­los­o­phy, ana­lyze and share data, improve prac­tice in the field, man­age kin­ship con­tracts and more.”

Are addi­tion­al resources avail­able as agen­cies devel­op kin­ship nav­i­ga­tor appli­ca­tions for July 20?

Gen­er­a­tions United’s kin­ship nav­i­ga­tor page includes links to a vari­ety of use­ful resources, includ­ing an eval­u­a­tion of the Flori­da kin­ship nav­i­ga­tor pro­gram and links to ear­li­er kin­ship nav­i­ga­tion pro­grams fund­ed by the Children’s Bureau.

Popular Posts

View all blog posts   |   Browse Topics

Youth with curly hair in pink shirt

blog   |   June 3, 2021

Defining LGBTQ Terms and Concepts

A mother and her child are standing outdoors, each with one arm wrapped around the other. They are looking at each other and smiling. The child has a basketball in hand.

blog   |   August 1, 2022

Child Well-Being in Single-Parent Families