Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota is gathering input on the needs and challenges of those who provide kinship care by opening their lives and homes to a grandchild, niece or nephew, a relative's child or a close friend's child.

The organization is inviting kinship caregivers to attend a focus group meeting from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at the LSSND Grand Forks Program Center at 412 DeMers Ave., one of several such meetings being held across the state.

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LSSND, in partnership with the North Dakota Department of Health and Human Services, is hosting the focus groups to learn from those who understand kinship care the best: the kinship caregivers themselves.

Placement of children in kinship care can help them to thrive at a difficult time in their lives, but placements can typically be sudden and unplanned. In these situations, kinship caregivers may find themselves taking on considerable responsibility without much preparation or support, LSSND officials say.

Kinship caregivers who share their experiences in the focus groups will enable LSSND and the state's human services department to better support future caregivers provide care for relatives' children in North Dakota.

Caregivers who participate in the focus group will also help develop an evidence-based statewide model of kinship-care support and, in the process, help these dedicated caregivers receive the training and resources they need to achieve positive outcomes for their children.

To participate in this opportunity and reserve space in Saturday's focus group, contact Sue Grundysen at (701) 451-4940 or email Food will be served.