Private Organization Accreditation

Lutheran Social Services of New England is a high-performing nonprofit organization. LSS is a powerful difference maker and go-to resource, driving ourselves to constantly anticipate futures that are different from the past. For 140 years, LSS has been caring for people in need in New England.


Judy Kay, LCSW

Volunteer Roles: Peer Reviewer; Team Leader

In administration for 22 of 24 years at Child Saving Institute, a COA-accredited not-for-profit child welfare agency in Omaha, Nebraska. Retired approximately two years ago, I moved to Tucson, Arizona, where I advocate for children's rights as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer to three young children.
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Children in Family Foster Care and Kinship Care live in safe, stable, nurturing, and typically temporary family settings that best provide the continuity of care to preserve relationships, promote well-being, and ensure permanency.

PA-FKC 17: Resource Family Development, Support, and Retention

The agency promotes resource family development and retention by collaborating with resource families to determine the support needed to ensure that children receive safe, consistent, and nurturing care.

Research Note: Kinship care has not always been identified as its own area of practice in large part because of policy structures that situate kinship care as a form of foster care or family preservation. At the same time, due to societal changes and policy that requires preference be given to kin, children are entering kinship care in greater numbers. 
Regardless of the service model for working with kin, researched conducted with kinship caregivers supports a collaborative approach.  Collaboration entails mutual support and commitment between adults who are responsible for ensuring a child’s safety, stability, permanency, and well-being. 
This research identified that collaborative support is demonstrated through five crucial competencies: 
  1. respecting mutual knowledge, skills, and experiences; 
  2. building trust by meeting needs; 
  3. facilitating open communication; 
  4. creating an atmosphere in which cultural traditions, values, and diversity are respected; and 
  5. using negotiation skills.

Table of Evidence

Self-Study Evidence On-Site Evidence On-Site Activities
    • A description of support efforts and services, including opportunities for peer support
    • A calendar or listing of recreational or social activities
    • Community resource and referral list
    • Procedures for safety assessment of resource family home and vehicle
    • Kinship caregiver strengths and needs assessment
    • Kinship caregiver strengths and needs assessment
    • Documentation of and/or attendance records for  peer support opportunities
    • Documentation of formal relationships with community providers for the provision of support services, as applicable
    • Informational materials on community resources provided to resource parents, including any specific materials for kinship caregivers
    • Interview:
      1. Program director
      2. Relevant personnel
      3. Resource parents
    • Review resource parent records
    • Review case records

  • PA-FKC 17.01

    The agency provides accessible opportunities for peer support among resource parents.

    Interpretation: Agencies should consider the different needs of the foster parents, kinship caregivers, and treatment foster parents they work with and offer opportunities tailored to the different groups. Opportunities for support include regular meetings in which resource parents can share concerns and discuss strategies for managing their role, and/or social events that bring resource families together and give them the chance to get to know each other better. 

    Agencies can work with resource parents to determine how to make peer support opportunities more accessible- such as by offering food and/or childcare. Agencies may contract out these services.

    Research Note: Research indicates that kinship caregivers best benefit from a hybrid approach to training and support in which the support group component is emphasized and serves as a space for targeted training activities.

  • PA-FKC 17.02

    The agency offers recreational or social activities for resource families.

    Interpretation: Kinship care programs should offer activities more regularly if these activities are a fundamental component of the services they offer kinship families, such as if recreational activities function as a form of respite for kinship caregivers. Agencies may contract out these services.

  • PA-FKC 17.03

    Resource families have access to services to improve family functioning and prevent and reduce stress and family crisis including: 
    1. child care; 
    2. counseling; 
    3. peer support opportunities outside of the agency; 
    4. cultural, recreational, and social activities outside of the agency; 
    5. respite care; and
    6. transportation.

    Interpretation: When working with Indian children, services offered by tribes or local Indian organizations should be considered when identifying support services.

    Research Note: An identified effective practice for increasing retention of foster parents is to encourage their participation in local, state, and national associations for foster parents, which can offer powerful opportunities for peer support and involvement in a larger movement to advocate for children.

  • PA-FKC 17.04

    Resource families participate in an annual mutual review to identify areas of strength and concern, and develop plans for needed support and training.

    Interpretation: The mutual review conducted as part of the home recertification process may be used to demonstrate implementation of this standard, provided such reviews are conducted annually. Resource families should receive ongoing feedback regarding performance, which focuses on strengths and needs, as part of the ongoing support provided.

    Note: Unlicensed kinship caregivers are not required to participate in the mutual review.

  • FP
    PA-FKC 17.05

    Resource families’ homes are regularly assessed to identify and address any safety concerns including, but not limited to: 
    1. inadequate heat, light, water, refrigeration, cooking, and toilet facilities; 
    2. malfunctioning smoke detectors; 
    3. unsanitary conditions; 
    4. lack of phone service; 
    5. unsafe doors, steps, and windows, or missing window guards where necessary; 
    6. exposed wiring; 
    7. access to hazardous substances, materials, or equipment; 
    8. rodent or insect infestation; and 
    9. walls and ceilings with holes or lead.

  • FP
    PA-FKC 17.06

    Resource parents who transport children in their own vehicles: 
    1. use age-appropriate passenger restraint systems; 
    2. provide adequate passenger supervision, as required by statute or regulation; 
    3. properly maintain vehicles and obtain required registration and inspection; 
    4. provide the agency with annual validation of their driving records; and 
    5. provide the agency with regular validation of their licenses and appropriate insurance coverage.

    Interpretation: Regarding element (e), this information should be provided as frequently as necessary, based on the amount of time licenses and insurance are valid. For example, if licenses are valid for two years, license validation can occur every two years. Regarding validation of appropriate insurance coverage, it is suggested that the agency maintain a copy of each resource parent’s auto policy declaration.

  • PA-FKC 17.07

    The agency collaborates with resource families, and when appropriate with parents, to identify informal resources that can offer support, including as appropriate:
    1. friends;
    2. neighbors;
    3. other resource parents;
    4. members of clan, tribal, religious, and spiritual communities; and
    5. local businesses or other community agencies.

    Interpretation: As appropriate to each family’s situation and in line with requirements for ensuring safety, the family and resource family can collaboratively or individually identify informal resources to help care the for the child and/or provide other types of support. This type of support may need to be included in service plans to ensure communication.

  • FP
    PA-FKC 17.08

    Strengths and needs assessments are conducted in collaboration with kinship caregivers who receive assistance, directly or through referral, to obtain supports or services, including but not limited to: 
    1. financial assistance; 
    2. legal services; 
    3. housing assistance and resources to provide a safe home environment; 
    4. food and clothing; 
    5. physical and mental health care; and 
    6. in-home support services.

    Interpretation: Agencies should be aware of applicable state regulations governing financial supports available to kinship caregivers. Kinship caregivers should be provided with all available options that can support stability and assisted to access the option that is best for their family and best for child permanency. 

    Interpretation: When the agency is working with Indian children and families, tribal representatives should be used as resources to help locate the most appropriate services for kinship caregivers.

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