GREELEY, Colo. — The state of Colorado has launched a program to help support families who provide kinship care to loved ones.
Kinship care is an arrangement where children are placed with relatives or close family friends if their biological parents are unable to care for them.
“It is the most purest form of love to see kids embrace someone just like a sibling,” said Laura Giggy, a kinship caregiver.
M has been living with the Giggy family for almost two years. She was a couple months old when she moved to their home in Greeley.
“We got a call from a relative saying that a relative's child was in foster care,” said Giggy. “Her parents were battling addiction.”
Giggy and her husband weighed their options and decided to take M in. Six days later, they joined Colorado’s new Kinnected Kinship Navigator Program, which provides support to children and families in the child welfare system with the help through a navigator. The navigator acts as a primary point of contact for kinship caregivers, providing them with support, resources and more.
"We received federal approval to start receiving reimbursement in May of 2023,” said Jeannie Berzinskas, Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) Kinship Care Program administrator. “Now any of our counties who implement this model can receive reimbursement for the services provided."
The Giggys were part of the pilot before the official program launched. They told Denver7 things are going great for them.
"I don't think any of us remember life before she came to us,” said Giggy.
CDHS said sometimes things don't always work out for these families.
“A lot of times, that doesn't work, and that's when you go back to that natural support system. And potentially there's maybe another kinship caregiver, another relative that might be a better fit,” said Berzinskas.
CDHS said there are 2,428 kinship families caring for children as of June 30. The ultimate goal is to reunite the child with their biological parents.
For the Giggys, M will be a permanent part of their family very soon through adoption.
“We are very excited that she will be legally a part of our household and will be able to care for her always,” said Giggy.
If you’re concerned about a child’s well being, you're urged to call 1-844-CO-4-Kids.