OhioKAN: Building Evidence for Kinship and Adoption Navigation Services  

Chapin Hall supports new model design, implementation

Becoming a kin caregiver or adoptive parent, whether planned or unexpected, can involve many challenges. Supports are often insufficient for kinship and adoptive families who need goods and resources, assistance navigating public programs, or connections with their peers. OhioKAN is designed to address these needs.

OhioKAN’s mission is to create a statewide flexible and responsive kinship and adoption navigator program designed to assist children, caregivers, and families. Chapin Hall’s Implementation Collaborative has worked with Kinnect, the Ohio Dept. of Job and Family Services, Kaye Implementation and Evaluation, and JetPack to develop the program model, and provide implementation support and training as the program begins its staged rollout and builds evidence through external evaluation.

The goal is for OhioKAN to become the first-ever evidence-based kinship and adoption navigation model represented on the Title IV-E Prevention Services Clearinghouse. This Clearinghouse lists programs and services that are supported by evidence.

“The Chapin Hall team are thought partners in the truest sense,” said Julia Donavan, OhioKAN Program Director. “They support us in thinking through complex issues in a mindful, engaging yet practical way. They can simultaneously move us toward the future while keeping us grounded in the present as they develop processes and training materials. They create an environment where all are included and feel a sense of belonging. This sense of belonging creates trust, which allows us to gather honest and insightful feedback from our stakeholders—making our program implementation exceptional.”

Chapin Hall’s Implementation Collaborative worked with the partner organizations to engage stakeholders, develop governance structures, and establish continuous quality improvement processes. Chapin Hall experts also co-created the OhioKAN program manual and a workforce development framework and performance management system to enhance the OhioKAN model and promote ongoing improvement.

The kinship navigator program includes information and referral services, assistance obtaining services and benefits, case management, legal referrals, and training. The program also connects caregivers to each other through support groups and social opportunities. Program staff also convene Regional Advisory Councils that build community capacity to respond to the unique needs of kinship and adoptive families.

OhioKAN serves kinship families involved with child welfare, informal kinship providers not involved with child welfare, and adoptive families. Adoptive families have long voiced a need for stronger post-adoption services. To achieve compliance with the Family First Prevention Services Act, the Ohio General Assembly allocated $8.5 million for a statewide kinship program.

This work at Chapin Hall is led by Policy Fellows Krista Thomas and Shaun Lane. Other key Chapin Hall team members include Policy Analyst Stephanie Perkowski and Associate Policy Analysts Charlotte Halbert and Kristen Gore.

For more information on this work, contact Shaun Lane at slane@chapinhall.org or Krista Thomas at kthomas@chapinhall.org.