FIJ Quarterly - Fall 2022 Edition

70 | FIJ Quarterly | Fall 2022 the child is usually placed with them within a short time frame. This lack of preparation can be overwhelming, and many do not realize the options they have regarding licensure. Many Kin feel the process can be intrusive considering the relationship they have with the children, which discourages them from becoming deeply involved with the child welfare system. Additionally, some agencies believe that relative caregivers are morally obligated to care for kin without receiving economic support were less likely to present the option of becoming licensed FAP to the prospective caregiver. 7 Many public agencies remain hesitant to grant flexibility in licensing permitted by the federal government despite the consistent struggles Kin have with this process. Without licensing, Kin guardians face a severe barrier in obtaining foster care monetary assistance. In 23 states, more than half of kinship caregivers do not receive maintenance payments. 8 A child is eligible for a Kinship guardianship assistance payment if the child has resided with the caregivers for at least six consecutive months in the home of the prospective relative guardian. 9 Length of required time of residency needs to be amended to reduce the amount of time Kin caregivers must wait to receive federal assistance. However, even with that change, current guardianship assistance programs are being underutilized. In 2016, six states accounted for 75 percent of Guardianship Assistance Programs (GAP) guardianships; those six states serve 51 percent of the children in foster care in the U.S. The same study found that in the same year, six states with approved GAP programs reported no GAP caseload. 10 When looking at kin guardianship assistance, agencies often consider Kin placement as an alternative to foster care, which does not require licensure. 11 Kin often are being used as shadow foster care placements and Child Protective Services workers are placing children in homes and then closing the case. By not bringing the case into the formal foster care system, Kin are not getting an option to qualify for benefits they would receive if the case was formal and they were offered the opportunity to become licensed. We can see how nuanced licensing eligibility directly correlates with the lack of financial support Kin receive as guardians. Finally, current law requires

“diligent recruitment” of foster families that reflect the race, color, and national origin of the child welfare population. 12 However, that law does not include the location of relatives as a part of the case planning process. Current law does encourage states to consider giving relative caregivers preference over a non-related placement. However, some child welfare agencies are more successful than others at placing children with relatives. 13 The Emancipated Youth Connections Project (EYCP) assisted twenty young adults who left the foster care system without sustained relationships, and found family or other caring adults as caregivers? Their results show that for 19 of the 20 participants, 139 new permanent connections were made with biological family members. 14 This shows if effort is made in locating relatives, there can be significant positive impacts on youth in the foster care system. Current Policies Licensing Requirements: the Family First ______________ 7 Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) (2012). Possibilities and pitfalls: The role of licensing in supporting relatives in caring for children in foster care. 8 Generations United. (2018). Adoption and guardianship for children in kinship foster care. Retrieved from Documents/ 2017/2018-Grandfamilies-Adoption- GuardianshipBrief%20(2).pd 9 Ssa, ordp. Adoption and Guardianship Assistance Program. Act §473. Retrieved February 24, 2022, from m 10 US Department of Health and Human Services. (2018) Title IV-E gap programs: Work in Progress. https:// _legacy_ files//179696/GuardianshipBrief.pdf 11 Foster Family-based Treatment Association. (2015). The Kinship Treatment Foster Care Initiative Toolkit. Hackensack, NJ: Author. r/files/Publications/FFTA_ Kinship_TFC_Toolkit.pdf 12 Ssa, ordp. State Plans for Child Welfare Services . Act §4422. Retrieved February 24, 2022, from https:// nacsa#:~:text=The%20Native%20American 13 Ssa, ordp. State Plan for Foster Care and Adoption Assistance . Act §471. Retrieved February 24, 2022, from 14 Friend, B. (2009). California Permanency for Youth project: An overview. In T. LaLiberte & E. Snyder (Eds), Permanency or aging out—Adolescents in the child welfare system. Minnesota: Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare, University of Minnesota School of Social Work.

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Additionally, while all title IV-E programs require all prospective foster and adoptive parents to undergo criminal background checks, laws in 31 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico require relatives to undergo a criminal background check that includes all adult members of the household in addition ______________ 15 Administration for Children and Families. (2019, February 4). Family First Prevention Services act implementation …Retrieved February 24, 2022, from uploads/2018/02/ffpsa-implementation-timeline.pdf

Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) created a new national model for licensing standards for foster parents in 2018. The eleven standards include: eligibility threshold, physical and mental preparedness, background checks, home studies, a health and safety standard for living spaces, safe and healthy home conditions, home capacity (aligning with IVE household occupants guidelines), basic and private sleeping arrangements, emergency preparedness, transportation, and training. 15 Under these standards, states are able to formulate their own licensing requirements. The problem is states were given flexibility in adopting these new standards.

FIJ Quarterly | Fall 2022 | 71

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