The Kinship Navigator Program
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The Kinship Navigator Program is a voluntary program offered through Children Services for kinship families who are raising other family members' children or "kinship" children. Kinship family members are blood relatives, including aunts, grandparents, cousins, 2nd cousins, 10th cousins, or neighbors, teachers, coaches, or anyone who has a significant bond with the children who are ensuring that children are taken care of when they cannot be with their biological parents. These children could otherwise be placed in foster care. The benefits of keeping children with a kinship family, and out of foster care, are immense. However, these families are often on a fixed income and are unfamiliar with local resources and in need of assistance.
Having a "kinship" child is the only requirement to be eligible for the Navigator program (no income eligibility). The first thing the Navigator will do is to identify an individual caregiver's needs. Anyone can make a referral. The family will NOT have an "open case" with Children Services. Some services that are offered include, but are certainly not limited to:
- Accessing financial resources and/or assistance [may include Kinship Permanency Incentive Program (KPI)* or Ohio Works First (OWF)]
- Guidance through Muskingum County Department of Job & Family Services (MCDJFS) (medical card, OWF, Prevention, Retention, and Contingency (PRC), etc.)
- Helping with school enrollment
- Help in obtaining custody
- Advocate in numerous areas (Individualized Education Plan (IEP), juvenile court, dealing with biological parents)
- Access to agency Kinship Newsletters, and to support groups and activities (bowling, skating, update on kinship legislation, etc.)
- Invitation to the annual Kinship Christmas Party. The families get dinner and so far every year, we have been able to ensure that every child that attends gets a present.
- The list goes on and on depending on the family. . .
Over the last five years, there has been a significant increase in the number of cases that are being serviced in Muskingum County. There are currently over 90 active cases with well over 150 children! Many of these families struggle to make ends meet.
If you have any specific questions regarding this program, please feel free to call the Kinship Navigator (Patrick Donavan) or his supervisor (Lori Moore) at 740.455.6710.
*KPI Program (KPI):
Did a court award you custody of a child after July 1, 2005?
If so, your family may be eligible for financial support through Muskingum County Children Services. In order to qualify, you must:
- Have an approved home study completed by Children Services.
- Must be at or below 300% of the federal poverty guidelines.
- Have to have legal custody or legal guardianship awarded after July 1, 2005.
If you have questions about the KPI program or would like to apply, please feel free to contact Patrick Donavan or Lori Moore at 740.455.6710.