Discussion Guides for Co-Developing the Kinship and Adoptive Family Collaborative Support Plan with the Family
The OhioKAN Collaborative Support Plan is a tool used to plan Collaborate Service Level. The Support Plan is designed to be co-developed through open-ended discussion with the caregiver or parent and should be revisited and updated at each meeting. This discussion guide provides suggested questions to better understand the somewhat challenging and very challenging areas the caregiver or parent identified during the BASICS assessment. The goal of the first interaction when providing Collaborate Service Level is to build rapport and trust with the parent or caregiver, ask follow-up questions based on what was shared in the BASICS, and learn more about the family’s circumstances to co-develop a tailored Support Plan.
The Navigator’s Role and Primary Skills
The Navigator’s role in co-developing the Support Plan with the caregiver or parent is to facilitate their exploration of ways to address their identified needs, recognize their strengths and abilities, and identify what family and community supports they already have. The primary skills used may include appreciative inquiry and motivational interviewing.
Before starting the Support Plan discussion, be sure to reintroduce yourself if needed and re-explain your role using plain language, especially if children are present.
During the Support Plan discussion:
- ask open-ended questions
- listen closely
- make reflective statements to confirm understanding
- follow the caregiver or parent’s lead, adjusting the pace and content of the discussion to be responsive to the emotional dynamics of the conversation
- take notes of the main points to fill out the Support Plan template
- orient the caregiver or parent to the Support Plan so that they understand what the next steps are and what to expect in their ongoing work
Framing the Discussion
The order of the Support Plan sections is flexible, though it is recommended you begin by discussing the reasons the caregiver or parent first contacted OhioKAN (information provided on the BASICS). You are encouraged to use your practice experience and follow the lead of the OhioKAN family when selecting a place to start. Depending on the family’s circumstances, you should select the applicable sections/questions. The conversation and Support Plan should be tailored to the family’s needs; you are not required to ask all the questions or use all the sections on the Support Plan.
As you frame questions, mirror the language OhioKAN families use about themselves, their relationships, and their situation. For example, if the caregiver describes the situation as temporary, you can say “staying in the home” rather than “living in the home”. Rather than using the more general term of caregiver, you can identify the specific relationship of “grandparent” “auntie” “uncle” or whatever term the caregiver and child use to identify their relationship. You will see multiple options of words to use in parentheses, and you may develop your own way of phrasing based on what you think will resonate with the OhioKAN family and will create a positive strengths-based conversation.
Youth Involvement in Developing the Support Plan
It is best practice to involve youth in planning and making decisions that impact them because can give youth a sense of control and increase their engagement in services. When it is developmentally appropriate and appropriate to the needs of the family, you should always ask the parent/caregiver if they would like youth to be involved in developing the plan. Youth involvement is especially relevant to the domains of education/child development, child social support, and child health. Involving youth in the support/assistance portion of the conversation is not recommended, especially if the discussed areas are related to flex funding. Your conversation with the caregiver or parent about the BASICS should inform what areas for support or assistance are appropriate to discuss with the youth.
When a child is involved in the Support Plan, be mindful of how long they have lived in the caregiver’s or parent’s home as well as the relational dynamics the caregiver or parent reports and what you observe. The Support Plan may remind them of past trauma or sensitivities that could inform your approach to the discussion as well as identify additional areas of support. The child is always welcome to leave the conversation, be mindful of both verbal and nonverbal cues that may signal the child is done.
After determining with the caregiver and family if the youth will be involved in the discussion, you can use the following prompts to engage them while co-developing the Support Plan:
- What would you like us to know about you?
- What are you interested in?
- Are there things that are important to you that you want to be sure we are paying attention to?
- What feels hard right now?
- Can you tell us about any problems you are trying to solve that you would like our help with?
- You may also want to ask questions to learn about how they are experiencing referrals that impact them (e.g., after school programs, health/behavioral health providers, etc.)
Discussion Guide: Exploring Personal Strengths and Family and Community SupportsTo build the Support Plan’s family and community supports table and action steps table with the caregiver or parent, it may be helpful to also explore areas in their broader family and community networks that might be strengths and natural supports. You can explore personal strengths and supportive relationships by applying appreciative inquiry skills (suggested questions below) to have an open-ended conversation with the caregiver or parent. If appropriate to the circumstances of the family and support needs identified by the caregiver, you may consider developing together a network of support diagram.
Suggested questions to explore personal, family, and community strengths for caregivers/parents are outlined below:
- Who do you feel like you and your family can count on?
- Who helps you out when you need extra support?
- What community groups or organizations are you already connected to?
- What are you most proud of as a (family role – caregiver, parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin, etc.)?
- How would you describe what’s best about your (family or home)?
- What do you think of as your most important personal strengths?
- How would you describe what’s best about your community?
- Who outside of the family is important to you?
- Tell me about a time you or your (family/household) experienced a challenge and how you addressed it?
- What do you think of as you and your (family’s/household’s) most important strengths?
- What do you think of as you and your community’s most important strengths?
Tip: Be mindful of how the caregiver or parent characterizes their family or household and modify your questions as needed. OhioKAN serves the whole family, including a caregiver’s or adoptive parent’s biological child(ren).
Discussion Guide: Articulating Areas for Support or Assistance
The goal of the conversation is to co-develop a Support Plan by learning more about the reasons the caregiver or parent first contacted OhioKAN and the BASICS domains they identified as “very challenging” and “somewhat challenging” and to make plans to address these challenges together. Co-developing the Support Plan is a way to build trust and accountability with the caregiver or parent through this discussion to support them with their unique circumstances. If the caregiver or parent’s reason for contacting OhioKAN relates to flex funds, the conversation should focus initially on those reasons for requesting this support before exploring other potential needs and include clear expectations of the steps involved in the process and how long it may take.
Exploring the BASICS Domains
To open the conversation with the caregiver or parent, begin by asking about the BASICS domains they reported as "somewhat challenging" or “very challenging” and asking follow-up questions to learn more about their support needs and which are most important to them. If you have not already, you may also want to review the binder referrals with them and learn whether they have been able to access those referrals. Remember, you can always make different or additional referrals and you can offer to contact a provider with a family If they would like your assistance.
Some suggested prompts are below. Questions will need to be tailored to the unique circumstances of the family. The caregiver or parent may choose to opt out of answering certain questions.
- You identified [BASICS domain] as very challenging. Can you tell me a little more about that? Would you still describe it as very challenging?
- Tell me more about what first led you to contact OhioKAN.
- Are there other areas for support or assistance that are especially important to you?
- What support or assistance can we provide that would be most helpful to you?
- How important is this area of support or assistance to you?
- I see that you identified financial assistance as the primary reason for contacting OhioKAN. Can you tell me a little more about that? Are you interested in exploring other forms of assistance from OhioKAN?
Repeat this process as needed until you and the caregiver or parent feel that enough information has been gathered on the “challenging” and “very challenging” domains indicated in the family’s BASICS.
Exploring other Family Needs
After going through the domains indicated as “very challenging” and “challenging” on the family’s BASICS, you may also explore other areas of support the caregiver or parent may be interested in sharing. Follow the parent or caregiver’s lead and assess their level of comfort with the conversation before exploring additional areas. The below questions are suggestions for ways to explore additional needs and should be tailored to the family’s unique circumstances:
- Are there other areas of support that are important to you that you would like to share?
- Are there other problems you are trying to solve that you would like our help with?
Discussion Guide: Developing Action Steps
Developing action steps is a critical piece of the Support Plan as it lays the groundwork for the family’s expectations for OhioKAN’s Collaborate support. This discussion guide is closely related to the next guide on exploring personal strengths and family and community supports as action steps build on and leverage the caregiver’s or parent’s strengths. The below guiding questions are a starting point for this portion of the Support Plan conversation, but it is not an exhaustive list. Questions will need to be tailored to the unique circumstances of the family.
- During our conversation, it sounds like you’ve identified [____] as an area for support or assistance. What would it look like to see this problem solved?
- If you could wave a magic wand and make this challenge go away, what would change?
- What will it take to see this problem solved?
- How important is this area for support to you?
- I’d like to understand what you’ve tried before to address this area. Are there resources or services in your community you’ve accessed? What was your experience with them?
- Can you tell me about any steps you’ve taken to address this challenge previously?
- Can we build on resources you may already have in your network to support with this challenge?
- Who in your network has been helpful with this area?
- Who do you turn to for support?
- Who is available to you when you need help?
- Can we explore what you found meaningful about our conversation so far?
- How would you describe your greatest strength to support change?
- How would you describe your hope and biggest reason for change?
- What are some steps you’d like to accomplish to address this area for support?
- How confident are you that you can accomplish this step?
- How ready are you to take this step?
- How difficult do you think taking this action step will be?
- How much energy do you think this step will take?
- How much support do you feel you will have for taking this step? Support might be from me, your family, your community.
- Let’s explore how I can partner with you to solve this problem and support you with your action steps. What steps would be helpful for me to take? How much support do you feel you will need to move forward?
- Would a referral to [service] address this area for support?
- I see you’ve identified enrolling in [benefit program] – can I help you with completing the necessary forms?
- Would it help if I introduce you to [service provider]?
- Would it help if I attended the [appointment, school meeting] to support you?
Collaborate Service Level build on the referrals offered through the Connect Service Level. In addition to providing referrals, you can also offer the following services and supports:
- Warm hand-off referrals
- You can offer to call an agency with a family on the phone, or call an agency on a family’s behalf to make the initial introduction
- Assistance with an application
- You can offer to assist a family with an application for a social service benefit (SNAP, childcare, SSI, etc.) virtually or in person if there are barriers to completing the application virtually
- Benefits coordination
- If the family has questions about eligibility, a benefits appeal process, or would like support with an application, or other benefits challenges that require more specialized expertise, you can offer to connect them with the OhioKAN Benefits Coordinator
- Flexible Funds and Hard Goods
- If a family needs hard goods like clothing, beds, car seats, etc., for their kinship or adoptive children, you can offer to directly link families to organizations and agencies for short-term assistance in obtaining these items, and follow up support
- If you have exhausted all community-based options for a family to meet a need for funds or hard goods, you can apply for flexible funds and hard goods through OhioKAN
- In-person visiting
- In select situations, you can offer to join a family in a meeting with the child’s school, social worker, etc. in the community to provide extra advocacy for the family
- If there are barriers to providing virtual support, you may also offer to visit the family in their home to assist with applications, etc.
- Collaboration with caseworker, state, or local agencies
- You can offer to coordinate with the family’s case worker, if they have one, or reach out to local/state agency contacts to advocate alongside them