Littlewood, K., Rosenthal, M., Day, A., & Pandey, A. (in review). Kinship Navigator Model Development and Implications: Lessons Learned from Four Demonstration Projects. Children and Youth Services Review.
With an increase in child welfare policies supporting relatives raising children, kinship navigator programs are becoming popular as an intervention to provide these families with support and connection to resources. Unfortunately, there are few studies which have examined the development and efficacy of the kinship navigator model. This study recruited program managers and evaluators from the U.S.D.H.H.S. Children’s Bureau’s 2012 Fostering Family Connections Kinship Navigator Grantee Cluster to examine the essential components of a kinship navigator model and provide guidance on implementation for new and existing programs. Results include the identification and conceptualization of direct service and organizational components of kinship navigator programs. Using the essential elements of the model,direct service delivery for a kinship navigator model used the following operational process: 1) Recruit participants; 2) Conduct intake and needs assessment; 3) Engage and build relationships with kinship families; 4) Identify and update community resources and gaps in services and systems; 5) Provide education to caregivers about available resources; and 6) Provide referrals or assist caregiver with self-referral. The essential organizational components of the kinship navigator program include: a) understand information, education, and resource needs of the relative caregivers and the children they are raising; b) build community partnerships; c) coordinate systems of care; and d) create data sharing agreements with key partners. Kinship navigator programs can use this information to assess the fidelity of their implementation and test the generalizability of the findings.