21st Annual Voices of Children contest welcomes submissions

Contest celebrates kinship care in Washington

Contact: Jessica Nelson, DSHS Office of Communications

Jessica.Nelson1@dshs.wa.gov or (360) 628–1043

Across Washington, thousands of children are cared for by a grandparent, aunt, uncle or other relative or family friend, which is called kinship care. The Voices of Children and Kinship Caregivers Contests offers a chance for both children and their caregivers to share their experiences.

To enter The Voices of Children contest, children can write a poem, short essay or draw a picture describing how living with a relative has made a positive difference in their lives. There are three age groups for the contest: 5–7-year-olds, 8–12-year-olds and 13–19-year-olds. The two top entries in each child age division will receive $100 from TwinStar Credit Union. You can take a look at the work of prior winners in the 2023 contest book.

Caregivers also have an opportunity to take part, by writing a poem or short essay about their positive experiences as a kinship caregiver. The top three adult entries will also receive $100.

The contests are sponsored by Family Education and Support Services, TwinStar Credit Union, Lewis, Mason and Thurston Area Agency on Aging and the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services. To participate, fill out an application in English or Spanish. Entries must be submitted or postmarked by April 15, 2024. If you have any questions about the contests, call (360) 754–7829 or email trisha@gamilyess.org.

In Washington, there are more than 57,000 children being raised in kinship care, and more than 47,000 kinship caregivers. DSHS has many resources including Kinship Navigators in 30 of the 39 counties. Kinship Navigators can help find resources such as:

· Support groups.

· Legal, health care and childcare resources.

· Resources for children with special needs.

· Educational advocacy.

· Financial assistance.

· Emergent needs funding, durable goods and housing.

· Counseling.

· Respite and summer youth activities.

For counties without Kinship Navigators, there is help available through the local Area Agency on Aging. They can help with resources referrals and may have short term financial assistance for eligible families called Kinship Caregiver Support Program funds to help with urgent needs.

To view a short YouTube video about the benefits of kinship support groups click on this link. To find resources, a Kinship Navigator, support group, or your local Area Agency on Aging visit www.dshs.wa.gov/kinship.