How important is family to you? If you are like most people, you would probably answer that family is extremely important. We find love, acceptance, support, a sense of belonging, and who we are, all through family and family connections. MBCH operates with a philosophy that Family Works for children. For all the children God gives us the opportunity to serve, we seek to find and support permanent family connections. The length of stays for children and youth on our campuses has gotten very short, as we seek to move kids to family settings. Our work with children, youth, and families in the community has continued to increase, and in the last several years our focus on relative or kinship families has grown.
Each year in September, we celebrate National Kinship Care Month. Kinship care, refers to caregiver grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, adult siblings and even family friends. In Missouri these kinship placements are simply called relative placements. Relatives often step up to love and care for children, either formally with state involvement, or informally when their extended family has the need.
When children have already experienced trauma, placing them in the homes of relatives or kin reduces the chance for further trauma, while at the same time maintains their connections. Some of the benefits to placing children with relative caregivers include increased stability, felt safety, and the ability to maintain family connections and cultural traditions.
According to the July 2021 Missouri Children's Division reports, there are over 14,000 children in Missouri state custody, and over 50% of them are placed with relatives.
Relative caregivers are truly special people. Imagine a distressed and hurt child, who may have been abused and neglected, coming suddenly into your home. Would you have the courage and perseverance to accept the challenge? If it was your kin, you would. That’s the story of many families in our state. It’s a great story, filled with love and sacrifice. Kinship or Relative care isn’t easy – it’s a labor of love from dedicated caregivers. Children live with their kin because of unfortunate circumstances, including but not limited to incarceration, abuse, neglect, and parental loss. Their stories are often remarkably similar. Parents cannot parent, and family must step in quickly. But the families are remarkably successful – a result that we credit to their determination and unconditional love.
Stepping up to care for a relative or close family friend is an expression of love, as well as a significant personal commitment. During National Kinship Care Month – and throughout the year – we salute kinship/relative caregivers for their commitment, because no one else could do a better job caring for children other than their family.
Please join with MBCH in praying for families, because families make the difference for a child.
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