OTS 93: How OT practitioners support Kinship Families in Education with Angela Provenzano


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Welcome to the show notes for Episode 93 of the OT Schoolhouse Podcast.


In this episode of the OT Schoolhouse Podcast, we are joined by Angela Provenzano, OTD Student, to discuss kinship families and what we should know as school-based OTs who support students who may be a part of a kinship family.


Angela is going to share her experiences as being a member of a kinship family, what the research says about both the children and the guardians in kinship families, and how she is now supporting those who find themselves as kinship guardians.



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Transcript

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Amazing Narrator

Hello and welcome to the OT Schoolhouse podcast, your source for school-based occupational therapy, tips, interviews, and professional development. Now to get the conversation started, here is your host, Jayson Davies, class is officially in session,


Jayson Davies

Hey, everyone, and welcome to episode 93 of the OT Schoolhouse podcast. My name is Jayson Davies, and I am your host today and forever. Thank you so much for being here today, I want to paint a picture for you. And that is that you walk into an IEP, you sit down at the table, you're talking with the administrator, the SLP. And then the next thing you know, you know, you're about to invite the parent or guardian in and someone comes in maybe they're a little bit older than what you might imagine them to be. And you kind of get the sense that they're not the students, parents, maybe they're the students, grandparents. How do you respond when that happens? That's what we're going to talk about today with Angela Provenzano. She's an occupational therapy doctorate student and she's about to graduate a few months from now. And she's going to come on and talk today about kinship families, and really dive into what's called Grand families. And that is when the grandparent takes responsibility for the child. And this does happen if it hasn't happened yet. I guarantee as an occupational therapist, it will happen, you will be sitting across the table from a grandparent of a student. And you need to know a little bit about what's going on in both the student’s life and that grandparent’s life. So that's what we're going to talk about today. Now, stick around have a great listening experience to this podcast with Angela Provenzano. But also, if you're listening to this episode, within the first week that it is coming out, I want you to know that we are having an event with Angela about a week after this podcast goes live, where she's gonna come on and actually do a live Q and A. So look in the show notes for a link to that live Q and A. Or if you're listening to this a little bit later, we will be sure to upload the recording of that Q and A If you'd like to learn a little bit more about kinship families and grand families. So I hope you enjoy the episode. And yeah, I hope to see you at the q&a event or in the replay for that Q and A event. Enjoy this interview. Hey, Angela, welcome to the OT Schoolhouse podcast. How are you doing today?


Angela Provenzano

I'm great. I'm so happy to hear. Thanks for having me.


Jayson Davies

Yeah, I'm so happy to have you as well, you know, you originally reached out to me and you're telling me about something that is just really quite something that I had never heard of before I had experienced in my practice as a school-based OT. But I had never thought more about that. And that is kinship families. And so we're going to talk about that in just a little bit. But first, I want to give you a moment to share a little bit about yourself, maybe how you found OT or maybe how OT found you and where you are at right now in your OT career.


Angela Provenzano

Sure. So currently, I'm a graduate student at The Ohio State University. So Go Bucks. And I will be graduating in May of 2022, which can't come fast enough for me. So yeah, I chose OT I found out about it in high school from like a random friend’s neighbor and a random conversation which I feel like how it is for most people. And then an undergraduate, I attended Mississippi State University. And I studied educational psychology. So for a while, I was going between psychology and OT actually. But I loved the holistic perspective that OTs can take and the number of different settings we can work in. So yeah, I landed here, and now I'm doing some non-traditional stuff, but have also really enjoyed learning about all parts of occupational therapy.


Jayson Davies

Awesome. You know, I actually want to dive into educational psychology. What was that? Like when you're going through that program? What did you learn? And yeah, like, what were your plans when you're doing that?


Angela Provenzano

It was very cool. I think it's like a very unique major, but we pretty much learn about the psychology of learning. So it very much applies to occupational therapy. We learned cognitive theories, behavioral theories, and also in the schools how kids can best learn. So it was a very different perspective. And I think the learning theories I learned there have really helped me in OT because we are teachers of different skills.


Jayson Davies

Very cool. And so would that have eventually led you to potentially being like a school psychologist?


Angela Provenzano

Yeah, a lot of people go into counseling or school psychology from educational psychology. It's very theory-based. It's not very applicable as like science itself. But many people do end up working in school systems or counseling settings.


Jayson Davies

Awesome. Well, we're lucky to have you and especially have you with that educational background, because I'm sure that is going to like you mentioned all those theories, all that information that you learned is going to carry over into your OT career. So that's awesome. All right. So now let's dive into the kinship families. And to do that tell us about how you landed on the topic of kinship families.


Angela Provenzano

So it kind of has found me For a long time, and I always say this is a long story, but I hope you all enjoy just the perspective that I have coming in here. So my grandparents have actually raised my cousin from about age five to age 15. And that was their grandson. So I've got to see a kinship care dynamic, just growing up in everything that came with that. And I do like to tell this story because I think it's very illustrative. In the last conversation I had with my grandma, she actually was diagnosed with stage four, lung cancer. And I knew this would probably be the last time I would talk to her and think about how it would go. And like one of the last things she said to me, like even struggling to talk was like, make sure Damien's school uniforms are ordered on time. So I think that just shows how intricate the role is to one's identity. Once you step into that, that was like one of the last things she was thinking about talking to me. And at that moment, I'm like, I need to do more with this. Because I can't be home and help my own family. But I want to learn about this on a bigger level and help others. And after this, my cousin went to live with my parents after she had passed away. So that's an aunt and uncle raising a nephew. So it's still very much in my family. And I get those late-night calls sometimes of stress. But yeah, so Well, I was studying educational psychology, I actually joined a grand family’s research lab. And we looked at large national data, and like psychological outcomes for this population. So I learned about it on a theory and research level. But coming into OT school at Ohio State, I really wanted to get the opportunity to work with kinship caregivers. So at that, I applied for the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, which is a one-year small grant to start a community program. And this was right after COVID had hit as well. So I started kinship caregivers Connect, which is an online support group for kinship caregivers. And I've gotten to meet caregivers twice a week now for the last year and a half, which has been so incredible. And just like such a joy of mine. And I've also looked for other opportunities to support kinship families as well. So I'm currently in a research lab with Dr. Ramona Denby, who's actually at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, now she was at Ohio State, kind of looking at the Child Welfare side of things more. And then I'm also completing my capstone project on kinship care. So everything I do is very much in this area. But I'm working with the Ohio statewide Family Engagement Center Ohio State, and developing professional development for educators of all different types around supporting and engaging kinship families within the schools because I feel like the school system can be such a support to these families. So it's a long story, but that is how I learned today.


Jayson Davies

Yeah, we're gonna break that down here. But to get started, you mentioned two terms during that, that I kind of want to let you dissect a little bit. The first was kinship family, what is a kinship family? And yeah, just dive into that.


Angela Provenzano

So a kinship family is when the primary caregiver is a relative, that's not the birth parent of a child. So the most common dynamic we see is our grandparents raising grandchildren, and they make up about 65% of kinship caregivers. But you can also have aunts and uncles raising nieces and nephews, you can have cousins, or even siblings raising family members. And there's also something called fictive kin, which is when a family friend steps in as the primary caregiver. And this could be with or without the birth parents still present. But a lot of these arrangements, the birth parent is not still living with the child. So...


Jayson Davies

and so obviously, when I think most of us when we think of families where the child is not with the birth parent, we typically think of foster families, I think, at least that's my experiences. So this is obviously different from a foster family. What are some of the similarities? And then obviously, the difference? Well, I don't know, are these kids technically in a foster situation? Or is this completely separate?


Angela Provenzano

This is a lot different. There are a few instances actually only about 5% of kinship families are licensed, foster caregivers. So many of these people are not, do not go through the foster system to care for their children. And the reason for this is kinship care is often a way to keep kids out of the foster care system. So if CPS gets like a call, that a child might need to be removed from their home the first people they'll call or the relatives and be like, can you take this kid in or we're gonna have to put them in the foster system. So it's kind of seen as the first line of defense because it is a lot better for a child to go with a relative compared to a stranger and there are better outcomes related to like permanency and stability, as well. But another key difference is kinship. Families are not supported or prepared like foster families are when you typically think of it. So a lot of times foster families will have to go through training to get licensed and kind of have a timeline of when a kid might be placed with them. And they also get monthly payments for being a foster family. But for kinship families, a lot of the time it's just a call On the Dine like I've heard so many stories, they get a call like you have to come and get the kids that night, they get the kids and they come back with whatever they could fit in a suitcase. So it's definitely normally an unplanned situation. And also they receive a lot less funding than foster families, it differs from state to state. But like a foster family, a national sta