For Angie Nickell and Yvette Chambers, being able to help families is their driving force at ParentLink. “We work with kinship caregivers to prevent what they can, manage what they must and reduce the impact of adverse childhood experiences to help children thrive,” says Nickell, associate director of Kinship and New Programming.
ParentLink, within the University of Missouri’s College of Education & Human Development, has been providing free assistance to families across Missouri for more than 30 years by connecting caregivers to parenting, family, home and daily living support. The organization has a Kinship Navigator program where they assist caregivers by providing support, educational information and connections to needed services and resources. “It is our goal to help kinship caregivers, who are relative or non-relative loved ones caring for children when the parents cannot, have what they need so they can provide safe and caring homes for the children who are now living with them,” says Chambers, statewide kinship navigator.
And that is exactly what they do. Chambers and Nickell recall one instance where they were part of a community effort to provide assistance to a grandmother who had suddenly found herself having to care for four children. “We were able to meet her needs so she could care for the children and keep them together instead of having them enter the foster care system and possibly be separated from each other,” Chambers says.
By being “Women to Watch,” Chambers and Nickell hope to further raise awareness of the importance of kinship care, while recognizing those who provide such care, since they know how challenging, but rewarding, that can be. “When you are part of the journey to empower caregivers to help the children thrive, that is pretty meaningful,” Nickell says.
ParentLink is hosting several community events for kinship caregivers throughout fall 2023, including a Kinship Family Fun Day and informational legal clinics. For more information on upcoming events, visit insidecolumbia.net/events.