Evaluation of Ohio’s Enhanced Kinship Navigator Project

Measuring the impact of an enhanced kinship navigator program in Ohio

Working with the Public Children Services Association of Ohio and seven Ohio counties, we evaluated the impact of a Kinship Navigator program on kinship caregivers’ access to services and on child safety, permanency, and well-being outcomes.


The Enhanced Kinship Navigator Project promoted caregiver satisfaction, diminished subsequent out-of-home placements for children, and increased access to essential resources and services for kin families.

Our evaluation facilitated an in-depth understanding of the effects of the intervention, helping county leaders determine next steps for improvement and integration of the program into county and state practice.

  • Evaluation
  • Data Collection and Analysis
  • Technical Assistance and Training
  • Dissemination

Enhancing Services for Kinship Families

The Public Children Services Association of Ohio and seven Ohio counties, with assistance from HSRI, developed a Kinship Navigator program and strengthened existing partnerships to enhance the array of supportive interventions and services available for families. The effort was made possible with funds fromthe Federal Family Connection Grant.

Kinship Navigators provided a range of direct supports to kin families including case management, emotional support, assistance with court processes, and financial supports. They also conducted community outreach through public education efforts, collaboration with local providers, and the development of sustainable caregiver-led support groups.

HSRI’s emphasis on participatory evaluation, with data gathered from diverse respondents and methods, helped ensure a broad perspective on the program’s development, evolution, and sustainability.

Evaluating the Program

The evaluation included both a process study and an outcomes study. The outcomes study used a quasi-experimental design to understand differences in child outcomes between children in participating (intervention) counties and children in seven similar comparison counties. The study examined whether, and to what extent, children in the intervention counties experienced greater well-being, more kinship placements (as opposed to other placement types), decreased time-in-placement, and increased safety and permanency.

Collecting the Data

We worked collaboratively with county staff to gather qualitative data from project staff, children services professionals, community partners, and kinship caregivers through a mix of semi-structured interviews, focus groups, and surveys.

The outcomes study used data from the Family Resource Scale, a data system developed by HSRI, and data from Ohio's Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System (SACWIS).

We presented findings on an ongoing basis as the program and evaluation unfolded. This stimulated regular discussion among state administrators, county directors, and agency staff—and these discussions provided important study insights. This method also created opportunities for individual counties to learn from the evaluation and from one another—and to make program adjustments as needed.


A range of promising findings emerged from the evaluation of Ohio’s Enhanced Kinship Navigator Project, including:

  • A strong positive response from kinship families
  • Increased access to essential resources like food, stable housing, heat, clothing, access to a telephone, and child dental care
  • Children receiving the intervention experienced fewer days in custody
  • Children receiving the intervention experienced lower rates of re-entry into out-of-home care

Public Children Services Association of Ohio

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