Abstract: (Withdrawn) Kinship Caregiver Virtual Support Group: A Pilot Study (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

All in-person and virtual presentations are in Mountain Standard Time Zone (MST).

SSWR 2023 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Phoenix A/B, 3rd floor. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 9. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

584P (Withdrawn) Kinship Caregiver Virtual Support Group: A Pilot Study

Sunday, January 15, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Angela Provenzano, OTD (Doctor of Occupational Therapy), Support group leader/ Student researcher, University of North Carolina
Monica Robinson, OTD (Doctor of Occupational Therapy), Associate Professor, Ohio State University
Background and Purpose: Nationwide almost 8 million children live in homes with grandparents or other relatives as the primary caregiver. Kinship care refers to a temporary or permanent arrangement in which a relative or fictive kin, has taken over the care of a child when their parents are unable or unwilling to do so (ODJFS, 2020). Custodial grandparents generally experience more depressive symptoms and higher stress levels than non-custodial grandparents, which can lead to poorer quality of life outcomes (Hayslip, Blumenthal, & Gardner, 2015; Lee et al., 2016). Social support has been identified as a mediating factor for caregiver well-being (Noriega et al., 2022). Poorer wellbeing may be exacerbated by the effects of social isolation and financial stress during the COVID-19 pandemic. While support groups have been successful in reducing perceived depression levels of custodial grandparents (Whitley et al., 2016), no research has been identified for an online support group for kinship caregivers. Kinship Caregivers Connect was one of the first online support group in the state of Ohio, starting in June 2020, after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. For weekly meeting, peer support model was blended with a psycho-educational approach, including presentations on a variety of topics.

Methods: With the novelty of online support groups, a mixed-methods, cross-sectional, online survey, was developed to evaluate acceptability, usability, and feasibility an online support group for kinship caregivers, as well as perceived changes in self-reported self-efficacy with kinship caregiving as a result of attending the group. This preliminary data was collected about one-year after the start of the support group and will inform the development and improvement of the next phase in statewide support group for kinship caregivers.

Results: Overall, n = 42 caregivers completed the survey with a 45% response rate. An online support group for was largely found to be feasible, usable, and acceptable, and was successful in reaching a diverse group of caregivers representative of kinship care. Demographics of survey participants included 92% were female, 45% reported a household income less than $40,000/year, 54% were Caucasian and 45% were African American, and a majority were caring for their grandchildren (67%). A majority of caregivers reported support groups meetings were applicable (88%), a good use of their time (72%), and they would recommend it to someone else (93%), with 98% rating the group as helpful or very helpful. Generally, caregivers reported an increase in self-efficacy related to topics they attended meetings for. An online platform was found to be usable and acceptable as well, with almost every participant reporting Zoom was easy to use (97%), and a majority (43%) preferring not to meet in person.

Conclusions: Kinship Caregivers Connect, an online and statewide support group for kinship caregivers in Ohio, was well-received and found useful by a diverse group of kinship caregivers, and showed positive outcomes related to increasing caregivers’ knowledge and self-efficacy on different topics. Access to peer networks and psycho-educational information should be considered an important support to kinship families.