Success Stories 

Roadmap serves family more than once

Cuyahoga County

Holly frame

Holly is a Kinnect to Family Specialist in Cuyahoga County. She has been in that role for a year, after spending seven years in extended care. Before working in extended care, she did not realize the full weight of permanent custody. When she began working with those youth, she realized how important it was for children to achieve permanency, how challenging that goal can be to achieve, and how valuable it is to connect with extended family members. She loves that she can help youth achieve permanency in her new role. Holly shared a story about a family she was able to support that involved four children, Daniel, Joe, Mia, and Natalie*, who came into foster care. One parent had died unexpectedly, and the other was not able to care for them. Holly began developing the genogram. Their father’s cousin, who had two young children of her own, agreed to care for all four children. Unfortunately, this arrangement was not long-term and they needed to move to a different home. This is when Holly’s genogram and Roadmap to Family (the family support plan) came back into play. She had found many cousins on their mother’s side. The agency was able to go right back to the Roadmap Holly made and reach out to a maternal cousin who was willing to care for Joe and Mia, the older two. Daniel and Natalie returned to the foster home they were in before living with their father’s cousin, a familiar and loving environment. Their story continues to unfold and Holly’s genogram remains as a valuable asset for this family.

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A grandmother raising three grandchildren reached out to OhioKAN for help. The grandfather had recently lost his job. The family’s only income was Social Security payments, and they were facing eviction during the winter. The grandmother was dealing with health issues that required hospitalization, including a recent fall.

OhioKAN helped the apply for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, but it was clear that this would not cover the immediate costs to avoid eviction. OhioKAN was able to cover the eviction expenses and verify with the landlord that this payment would keep the family in their home. The grandparents then created a sustainable financial plan for the family moving forward, with support from OhioKAN.

OhioKAN is honored to support kinship caregivers in creating action plans that work for them and the young people in their care.

Teens find a caregiver in their uncle

Sandusky County

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Lisa is a Kinnect to Family Specialist in Sandusky County. She loves that her work allows her to have a positive impact on the lives of families. In one situation, she was able to find caregivers for two adolescent girls within their own family network. Madison and Alexis* were living with their father’s cousin when their parents were unable to care for them. They were not adjusting well there, and the cousin was overwhelmed. She called the children services agency for help.

Lisa opened a Family in Need of Services (FINS) case and began prevention services by searching for kin. The search was tough, but she found a former uncle, Matt, on their mother’s side. Madison and Alexis remembered him and insisted that he was still their uncle even if he and their aunt were divorced. Lisa was not sure what to expect when she contacted him, but he wanted to be involved and so did his girlfriend who had behavioral health experience. Her additional support and experience would be useful in helping the girls heal from their trauma. The girls went to his house for an overnight visit and did not want to leave. They are now living with Uncle Matt and his girlfriend and they are thriving. These sisters have also been able to remain connected to the cousin they lived with before, who is a support to them.

After a tragedy, family makes a difference

Cuyahoga County

Copy of Kinnect to Family Email Signature (6)

Nicole is a Kinnect to Family Specialist in Cuyahoga County. She has been with her agency for 22 years and has been a Kinnect to Family Specialist since 2018. She shared the story of a family she served where two brothers, Caleb and Levi*, came into the care of the agency on an emergency basis. Their parents both died in a tragedy, and the police brought them to the hospital. Other family members were also there. Right away, everyone wanted the same thing: to get the children with family that night. It was a team effort. While the assigned caseworker was at the hospital, Nicole and her fellow Specialist, Kelly, set out to find a kinship caregiver. They checked the backgrounds of the aunts and uncles at the hospital. Unfortunately, none of them were able to care for the boys that night. The team began to dig deeper. One of the relatives mentioned a cousin who may be willing to support the boys. Nicole and her partner conducted background checks and completed paperwork, while the caseworker remained with the boys. When Caleb and Levi arrived at their cousin’s house that evening, she had a comfortable place ready for them to sleep. She created a calm environment for them to heal and thrive. Caleb and Levi now live with their cousin and her children, one of whom is their age, and the other one an older teen who serves as a role model. They live across the street from their new school. For two boys brought to the hospital by the police after a family tragedy, this team effort paid off. They were able to remain with their family, connected to their community and culture.

Teamwork makes the dream work

Fairfield County

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Rachel is a Kinnect to Family Specialist in Fairfield County. She is new to this role but has extensive children services experience. Rachel shared the story of three young children who came into foster care. The infant, Ella*, was in good health. Her brothers Carter and Liam were behind in their developmental milestones. Rachel reached out to many biological family members in a short amount of time. Finally, she contacted their great-grandmother, Mary, who wanted to be a caregiver, but she and her partner had some health limitations. Their house was not childproof. And, they needed beds, clothing, car seats, and activities for the children. Rachel began searching for supports. She located an aunt, a great-grandfather, and the sister of Mary’s partner. Together they came up with a plan to provide daily support and take them some weekends. Rachel got beds and car seats. OhioKAN provided a baby pool. The aunt takes Ella, Carter, and Liam swimming. In addition, their parents are able to visit, maintaining their bond. As a Kinnect to Family Specialist, Rachel has more time to dedicate directly to supporting families through family search and engagement. She spent about 20 hours working directly with this family, including a call for help when one of the children emptied the refrigerator onto the floor. She was able to provide support and put plans in place moving forward. With Rachel’s support and guidance, the family was able to come together and create their own solution. Now, these children are living with family and maintaining a relationship with their parents.

Dad becomes her greatest champion

Franklin County

Sarah L Frame

Sarah is a Kinnect to Family Specialist with Franklin County Children Services. She has been with the agency for five years, starting out in intake. Through the creativity of her children services caseworker in high school, she spent time with a kinship caregiver. So, a job that involved going above and beyond to find creative care arrangements for kids really pulled at her heartstrings.

Sarah shared the story of an 8-year-old girl, Olivia, who moved to Franklin County with her mother and grandmother from another area of the state. She did not know anyone in the area. A couple of months after moving, she ended up entering foster care. Sarah set out to locate a caregiver within her family network, pursuing both sides of the family. Olivia had never met her father. Sarah set out to find him, searching hard because he had a common name. It took her a week and a half of searching, but she found him. He asked a lot of questions, but he did not hesitate: he wanted to be involved with Olivia.  He especially wanted her to have a relationship with her younger half-brother. Olivia now lives with her father back in her home community, along with her half-brother as well as her step-mother and a step-sibling. She attends school with her siblings. She has a relationship with her paternal grandparents, who help with childcare. Her father has become her biggest advocate, calling agencies daily until he was able to arrange services to help her heal from her past trauma. For Olivia, being with family has made all the difference.

Friends help family get back on their feet

Allen County

Monica

Monica is a Kinnect to Family Specialist in Allen County. She has been in this role for a year and has ten years of experience with the agency. She shared the story of two young children, William and Emma* who came into foster care. They were not adjusting well due to the trauma they experienced. Monica searched diligently for biological relatives. Kinnect to Family Specialists have the time to cast a wide net searching for kin and engaging them.

At first, a relative out of state seemed to be a good caregiver option. The Kinnect to Family Specialist always develops a backup caregiver. In this case, William and Emma’s father Jim gave Monica the name of a friend, Sean, who had always been supportive of him. Sean and his wife Amy were the backup caregivers. When the first caregiver option fell through, the children came to live with Sean and Amy, along with Jim. The couple has supported the whole family, helping Jim get back on his feet and taking William and Emma to a series of medical appointments. Having everyone together allowed William and Emma to remain bonded with their father. Recently, Jim was able to move into his own housing, and William and Emma are now doing overnight visits with him. Kinnect to Family Specialist partner with their agency staff to serve families, and it really paid off for these children and their dad.