A Better Way Facilitating Kinship Licensure and Foster Care Exits to Guardianship Angelique Day, Grace Nielson, Scout Hartley, and Charles E. Lewis, Jr.
Studies have shown that Kinship placement and guardianship has the lowest rate of reentry into the foster care system. 1 However, potential Kinship caregivers are denied the opportunity to care for the children they love because of barriers to licensure and restricted use of KinGAP (Kinship Guardianship Assistance Programs). Federal child welfare and foster care legislative reform is needed to provide children, their relatives, and fictive kin with easier ways of establishing guardianship as a form of permanency. Through the nationwide implementation of KinGAP, diligent recruitment of relatives as a part of case planning for permanent guardianship, the adoption of standardized licensing requirements, and parity in funding and supports to kin guardians we can address the obstacles Kinship guardians face when trying to care for their family. Background In 2011, the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey found that 1.65 million children in the U.S. live in households with grandparents and no parents present. 2 Additionally, in 2021, an estimated 2.3 million grandparents are responsible for grandchildren, 1.1 million of whom are over the age of 60. 3 In a nationally representative sample, Kinship caregivers tend to be older and have lower family income. 4 Without consistent financial assistance as a result of failure to obtain licensure, these families suffer. Issues of Foster and Adoptive Parent (FAP) standards, licensure opportunities, restricted use of KinGAP, and the minimal effort for location of relatives that harm foster children and their Kin are outlined in this briefing. Inconsistencies in FAP standards create huge barriers for Kin and non-Kin foster parents. For instance, states vary in standards like upper age limits, citizenship, education standards, income requirements, and caps on the number of children allowed
in the home. Additionally, the definition of who qualifies as a relative eligible for Kin care varies by blood, marriage, or adoption ranging from the first to fifth degree. 5 And while these differences make it difficult for agencies to determine if Kin can be eligible caregivers, it also disqualifies certain qualified individuals based on their age, race, or history that no longer is indicative of their current abilities to care for individuals like their nieces, nephews, or grandchildren. Licensure is another large challenge Kinship caregivers face when serving as guardians of family members. In fact, Kin experience the most difficulty getting licensed compared to any other placement type. 6 Kin often do not the time and resources to acquire licenses as ______________ 1 1 Goering, E. S., & Shaw, T. V. (2017). Foster care reentry: A survival analysis assessing differences across permanency type. Child Abuse and Neglect, 68, 36-43. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chiabu.2017.03.005 2 Vandivere, S., Yrausquin, A., Allen, T., Malm, K., & McKlindon, A. (2012). Children in nonparental care: A review of the literature and analysis of data gaps. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. 3 U.S. Census Bureau. “Table S1002 – Grandparents, 2019 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates.” December 2021. https://data.census.gov/cedsci/ table?q=S1002&tid=ACSST1Y2019.S1002&hidePre view=false 4 Stein, R.E.K., Hurlburt, M.S., Heneghan, A.M., Zhang, J., Rolls-Reutz, J., Landsverk, J., Horwitz, S.M. (2014). Health status and type of out-of-home placement: Informal kinship care in an investigated sample. (2014). Academic Pediatrics, 14(6), 559– 564. https://doi.org/10.1016/j. acap.2014.04.002 5 Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2018). Placement of children with relatives. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children's Bureau 6 Foster Family-based Treatment Association. (2015). The Kinship Treatment Foster Care Initiative Toolkit. Hackensack, NJ: Author. https://cdn.ymaws.com/www. ffta.org/resource/resmg r/files/Publications/FFTA_ Kinship_TFC_Toolkit.pdf
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68 | FIJ Quarterly | Fall 2022
FIJ Quarterly | Fall 2022 | 69
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