law may suggest that direction—such as in the federal provision that states “consider” a kinship placement preference or in state laws that create kinship placement preference so long as the agency has approved it—but largely does not require it. (That should not, of course, stop advocates from seeking stronger legal rulings in individual cases or state courts interpreting existing laws as strongly as possible, as the Washington Supreme Court did in In re K.W. ) The status quo is a legal structure that grants agencies and courts too much power and discretion to decide when to use kinship care, results in significant variations by jurisdiction in the use of kinship care, and leaves families without adequate remedies when denied the opportunity to live together. Legal reforms can establish a strong kinship placement preference and requirement that agencies act to achieve and maintain such placements. In jurisdictions with high kinship care rates already, such reforms can codify that practice and help ensure it applies to each individual family and that some future change in administration or judicial personnel does not limit the use of kinship care. In jurisdictions with lower kinship care rates, such reforms can become a powerful tool for improved outcomes and can provide parents and children (and their lawyers and advocates) stronger tools to seek kinship placements and avoid placements with strangers. _________________________ Josh Gupta-Kagan is a clinical professor of law at Columbia Law School.
© Florida Sunset by Anisa Rahim
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28 | FIJ Quarterly | Fall 2022
FIJ Quarterly | Fall 2022 | 29
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