Common Questions About Kinship

1. What is Kinship?
2. What types and ages of children are matched through Kinship?
3. Who can be a mentor in the program?
4. What is the history of the Kinship program?
5. What kinds of safeguards are built in to the Kinship program?
6. How are Kinship affiliates structured?
7. How can we find out more about our local Kinship?

What is Kinship?

Kinship is a community program that matches carefully screened adult volunteers with children who, for various reasons, can benefit from a special relationship with an adult.  Each week the volunteer shares an agreed upon amount of time with the child doing activities both can enjoy.  One week they might go fishing, or to a movie, and the next week they might just bake cookies or take a walk. Though the activities themselves are not as important as the time the volunteer and child spend together, those that emphasize safe, enriching, and educational experiences and promote responsibility and community participation are encouraged and supported by Kinship.
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What types and ages of children are matched through Kinship?

Children ages 5-15 from the Cumberland and Turtle Lake School Districts are served by our affiliate. We match children from all socio-economic groups and accept the idea that every child can benefit from additional adult role models.
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Who can be mentors in the program?

Kinship is unique among mentoring programs in that we encourage not only single people, but also couples and families to become mentors for children.
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What is the history of the Kinship program?

Kinship began in Minneapolis, Minnesota as an outreach program serving at risk youth who had been involved with the court system.  This was over forty years ago.  One to one mentoring of these youths turned out to be so successful that the program was expanded to reach other children who would benefit and the focus was shifted to prevention and working with younger children.

In 1990 Kinship was restructured and became the National Kinship Affiliate Network and to date there are more than 50 Kinship programs operating across the country, primarily in the Midwest.  Kinship of Wisconsin, the state organization, includes 17 affiliates and is still growing. In 2001, a grant was received which has resulted in the beginning or expansion of 14 affiliates in the northern Wisconsin area.
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What kinds of safeguards are built in to the Kinship program?

Mentors apply by contacting the office and completing the application information. A committee carefully screens adult mentors through references, criminal history and driving records, and thorough home interviews. The committee looks over each application and all relevant paperwork to determine an applicant’s possible contributions to the program and approve the final matches.
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How are Kinship affiliates structured?

Each Kinship affiliate has a Board of Directors and is required to have a paid Program Director.  The Board sets policies and procedures and the Director is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the program.  As the affiliate grows it is common to add staff in order to monitor matches and serve more children.  A survey of mentoring programs estimates that the costs for monitoring one match is $1200 per year.  Most programs adhere to the rule of thumb that limits children served to 1.5 per paid staff hour. This is done to ensure that mentor, parent, and child are getting the help and supervision they need to make their match a successful one.
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How can we find out more about our local Kinship?

If you are interested in referring a child to the program, becoming a mentor, volunteering to help with activities, or to schedule a Kinship presentation, please call the Kinship office at 822-5553 or email makeadifference@kinshipctl.org. We would be happy to answer any questions you might have.
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