Cooper, L., Littlewood, K., & Pandey, A. (2016, November). Outcomes and Costs for a Federal Kinship Navigator Demonstration Project.Council for Social Work Education Annual Program Meeting, Atlanta, GA.
Background: The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008, (P.L. 110-351) offered support to many children in and out of foster care who are being raised by their grandparents and other relative caregivers because their parents are not able to care for them. It established a Family Connection Grants Program that funded nine Kinship Navigator Programs in 2009 and 2012. Kinship Navigator Programs help link grandparents and other relative caregivers, both inside and outside the formal child welfare system, to a broad range of services and supports that help meet the needs of the children they are raising and themselves (Children’s Defense Fund, 2009). The KINTech Project, is one demonstration project funded in 2012 and designed to meet the most urgent needs of kinship families by implementing several innovative program features, including One-e-App (one-stop-web-based innovation for resources and collateral coordination), Peer-to-Peer Navigation (in-person peer-led, emotional-support-focused system navigation), and Interdisciplinary Team (coordinated team meetings with invested experts). A pragmatic randomized controlled trial (RCT) was designed for this evaluation. The KINTech-RCT stratified kinship caregivers at central intake based on county of residence and type of caregiving [formal (open or closed child welfare case) or informal (no child welfare involvement] based on a four-question screener. Participants were consented and randomized into one of four groups in each county: Kin Tech Project, Peer-to-Peer Navigation Only, Standard Care (case management and family support), or usual care (traditional child welfare services). Although this evaluation included numerous outcomes (including: child safety, family functioning, caregiver health, family needs, social support, etc.), this study will present results based on 1550 kinship caregivers application and enrollment rates for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Child Only Program. Participants in this study were typically the maternal grandparent, either Caucasian or African American with a mean age of 54, low income, married, English speaking, caring for 1-3 children with an interest in gaining legal custody of the children. Children living with relatives had approximately one-half of siblings living outside of the caregivers’ home with other relatives. No statistical differences were identified on primary demographic variables (excluding legal status, involvement with child welfare system, foster payments, and other variables closely related to stratification criteria). Study results describe benefits and challenges related to using a pragmatic randomized controlled trial in a community setting and build the rationale for strengthening evaluation rigor for demonstration projects,such as KinTech. Baseline results illuminate important demographic information for caregivers involved with the child welfare system and those informal caregivers.