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KVC Health Systems

From Crisis to Connection: Family Strengthening and Prevention Services at KVC

While foster care can be a crucial safety net for children and families in challenging circumstances, we at KVC know how important it is to help families stay together. Consistent caregiving and stable families are crucial for children. Foster care prevention and family preservation services help families remain intact, allowing children to grow and thrive!

It’s not possible to keep every family from experiencing separation. However, there are many proactive ways of preventing the conditions that can lead to foster care. Let’s explore why it’s ideal to keep a child with their birth parents, what supportive resources KVC offers for family preservation and what happens when foster care is necessary.

Why is it Ideal for a Child to Remain with Their Birth Parents? 

Nearly 400,000 children are in the U.S. foster care system. Through no fault of their own, many of these children have experienced abuse, neglect or other family challenges. As a result, they have been removed from their homes by the courts for their safety. These children are cared for by relatives, non-related kin and foster families, who support them until reunification is possible.

Anna Lehew, Director of Wraparound Services, KVC West Virginia

“We view foster care as a way to keep the child safe while we are hopefully able to help the parents achieve reunification,” explains Anna Lehew, Director of Wraparound Services with KVC West Virginia.

Reunification may begin when:

  • A safety risk is eliminated
  • Home services are put in place
  • Housing is settled or other resources for the family are accessed

But evidence suggests that children thrive best in their natural environments, under the care of biological parents. And removing children from biological family can lead to lifelong challenges, explains Chelsea Carron, Supervisor of Intensive In-home Services with KVC Health Systems. “The trauma of removing children from a home is much more severe and can create a lasting impact that stays with them for the rest of their lives,” she says. 

For these reasons, prevention services are crucial. KVC relies on trauma-informed care to provide added support and care to its clients. Why? Trauma-informed care looks at the individual and shared trauma of each member of the family. It also identifies the barriers that are standing in the way of being a healthy and successful unit. This is vital in evaluating what needs to change in order to ensure children can live safely in their biological homes, as well as what support systems need to be added or bolstered. 

How KVC Helps Families Stay Together 

Trauma often repeats itself through generations. But with learned coping and resiliency skills, necessary substance treatment, counseling or therapy and other trauma-informed support, families can begin healing their generational trauma, break the cycle and stay together. 

KVC offers a variety of programs and beneficial services to help families stay together, including in-home services and family reunification services. “The goal with both programs is to achieve permanency,” Carron explains. Permanency services and the wraparound programs available through KVC work with children and their families who are at risk of being removed from their biological homes and into a treatment facility, foster care detention center, shelter care or other facility. 

Family preservation services like, in-home services assist families through moments of crisis and prevent any further disruptions. In family reunification services, the children have been removed from the home and placed in foster care. The goal here is to reunite with their biological families when the family is stable. School administrators, mental health professionals, other agencies, and in certain circumstances, the parents make referrals to these programs. 

KVC collaborates with others to identify who might be in need of these services. Once KVC accepts a referral, we help the family find the support and resources they need to fix whatever might be going wrong. “In many cases, this may include families struggling with poverty, mental illness and/or substance use issues, and they need help getting back on track,” Carron says. 

Through KVC, children and families have access to those necessary resources including: 

  • Counseling
  • Mental and behavioral therapy
  • Parenting classes
  • Ensuring needs are met, including financial support, budget setting, transportation needs and work and employment support (like resume assistance, interview coaching and even aiding in appropriate work clothing)
  • Creating more physically safe environments (with support for cleanliness, mental and physical organization, eating habits and safety)

When Foster Care is Necessary 

The research has established that the best outcomes usually occur when children remain with their biological parents, even through sticky conditions. However, depending on the severity, it may be more beneficial (at least temporarily) for the children to stay with a foster family until their biological parents can find their way. “KVC empowers families to make positive changes,” Lehew says, and foster care is a big part of that. 

Foster care providers are a necessary component in the process of family reunification. These families accept displaced children into their homes and work with KVC professionals and the biological parents to ensure their safety and wellbeing until their home situation improves. During this entire process, both the biological parents and foster caregivers must learn and make changes. “At KVC, we try to do everything we can to increase the family’s confidence and resiliency by enhancing their knowledge, skills and capabilities,” Lehew says.

Ultimately, foster care prevention happens because of a team approach, Lehew says. “It takes a team,” she explains. “And when we come to a family with love, understanding, connection and the ability to support through problem-solving. Then we are a lot more successful in reaching our goals.”

Here at KVC, we know that we all need connection. And delivering the support families need to stay together is a crucial part of these efforts. Learn more about the wide variety of services we offer, all in the spirit of building strong connections. 

Change a child's life forever. Learn about becoming a foster parent