Kinship Care: Birth Mothers Speak Out
About the DVD
This presentation was recorded at the Child Welfare League of America’s Fourth National Kinship Care Conference. It is one in a 3-part series of Kinship Care topics developed and facilitated (off camera) by Dr. Joseph Crumbley. Dr. Crumbley is an expert in the relative caregiving field and an internationally respected author, therapist, trainer, and consultant. In this session, birth mothers reflect on their varied experiences with kinship care.
Coalition Team Member Thoughts on this Resource
Too few resources include the crucial voices of birth parents when discussing foster or kinship care. Although a bit dated,* this recording offers unique insights into kinship care from the seldom-heard-from-birth-mom perspective. Best of all, these are moms who are now caring for their children on their own. On that alone, I would highly recommend this DVD.
Some of the panelists presented here had children in kinship care due to incarceration, while others needed assistance due to family stressors such as finances or marital issues. Some panelists had limited or no contact with their children, while others lived in the same household but were not the primary caregiver. All of their experiences are important to a better understanding of how we best serve children in kinship care.
Through a series of questions, Dr. Crumbley explores topics such as ways of remaining involved as a parent (even while incarcerated long-term), how to explain kinship care to children, navigating family relationships, helping children process their feelings about being in relative care, and learning to parent after an extended absence. It is with great vulnerability that the moms discuss these difficult issues. Though each of the moms brings her own experiences and spin to the discussion, nearly all express the importance of their child(ren) feeling loved.
One of the most powerful segments of the video is when the moms share stories of the impact of kinship care on their relationships, both with their children and the kinship caregiver. A number of the moms were themselves raised by a relative, and in some cases, the same relative who is raising their children.
This panel discussion is a wonderful resource for the foster or relative parent wanting to better understand the birth mom’s perspective. It also provides valuable information for the birth parent struggling with having a child in the care of a relative from other moms who have been there. A discussion guide is included with the DVD for those interested in using it for a parent group—whether birth or kinship parents.
*It is surprising that “trauma” is never mentioned or acknowledged in the discussion. This may be because the presentation pre-dated what we now know about trauma in child welfare. It is also noteworthy, however, that trauma is central to the discussion in the heart-wrenching second part of this series, “Kinship Care: Young Adults and Teens Speak Out.”Author: Dr. Joseph Crumbley