Catholic Charities’ Kinship Caregiver Program plays critical role for many

“As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live.” – Saint John Paul II.

The greatest saints have weighed in on the importance of family and the critical role they play in binding us all together and raising the next generation of children. Of course, being a parent is wonderfully fulfilling, but it can also be challenging. No one should ever have to tackle it without the support and love of a community.

That’s where Catholic Charities’ Kinship Caregiver Program plays a critical role. When biological parents aren’t able to take care of their children for a variety of reasons, parenting often falls to grandparents, aunts and uncles — and even siblings — to support, love and guide children. Kinship supports these caregivers who are raising their relatives’ children due to unfortunate circumstances.

For Maria*, a Denver mother, parenting her five biological children and three additional nieces and nephews is a joy, but can be challenging. That’s one reason why she was so excited to have her entire family participate in Catholic Charities’ Kinship Family Movie Night at the Harkins Theatres.

“It’s extremely hard to keep my kids busy and I’m grateful for an event like this. I could not afford to take a family of 10 to the movies,” she said. “Kinship has been a blessing for me and my family.”

Across the nation, three percent of all children — more than 2.5 million individuals — are in kinship care. In this arrangement, relatives raise kids when their parents cannot care for them.

The Kinship Caregiver Program at Catholic Charities supports caregivers of all cultural and faith backgrounds who are raising their relatives’ children due to circumstances such as the death or illness of the biological parents, drug abuse or incarceration. We offer monthly support groups (in English and Spanish), fun family events, special trainings and provide individual resource referrals to kinship families in five counties: Denver, Arapahoe, Jefferson, Adams and Douglas. Our programs are free.

Family events are meant for families to engage in activities at no charge to them and help to build a community with other families in similar situations.

“We do more than provide resources — and not everyone is looking for resources;, they are just looking for support and a community of people who are in a similar experience,” said Sarah Burgess, Bilingual Kinship Program Manager at Catholic Charities. “When families come to us regardless of their situation they are greeted with compassion and these families are not turned away.”

At the end of the last movie night, one of the youngest participants walked over to Sarah, tugged on her sleeve and thanked her for allowing her to come to the movies. She was so grateful and enjoyed the opportunity so much. That’s what the Kinship Caregiver Program is all about.

*Name changed to protect privacy.