Diligent Recruitment of Kin Sec. 422(b)(7) of the Social Security Act requires that the state’s IV-B, Subpart 1 plan “provide for the diligent recruitment of potential foster and adoptive families that reflect the ethnic and racial diversity of children in the State for whom foster and adoptive homes are needed.” 22 Without the intentional wording to locate relatives in the process of recruitment for foster parents, Kin can be forgotten or overlooked as caregivers. There are current efforts in Kin recruitment called Permanency Action Recruitment Teams (PART) that work with teens poised to age out. These advocates work to identify significant others such as Kin, fictive Kin, friends, and acquaintances with whom they have had a positive and constructive relationships. After having identified those individuals, they are contacted and invited to a PART meeting. Ninety-eight of the 199 teens were placed in permanent homes. At almost 50 percent placement rate, their outcomes support the legislative recommendation to actively recruit family members as guardians. 23 ______________ 16 Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2018). Placement of children with relatives. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children's Bureau 17 Beltran, A. & Epstein, H. (2013). The standards to license kinship foster parents around the United States: Using research findings to effect change. Journal of Family Social Work, 15(5), 364-381 18 Beltran, A. & Epstein, H. (2013). The standards to license kinship foster parents around the United States: Using research findings to effect change. Journal of Family Social Work, 15(5), 364-381 19 Native American Children’s Safety Act (NACSA) (P.L. 114-165) . Indian Affairs. (n.d.). Retrieved February 24, 2022, from https://www.bia.gov/as-ia/raca/archived- regulatory-efforts/nacsa#:~:text=The%20Native%20 American 20 Administration for Children and Families. (2021). Title IV-E Guardianship Assistance . https://www.acf.hhs.gov/ cb/grant-funding/title-iv-e-guardianship-assistance 21 Lee, E., Clarkson-Hendrix, M., & Lee, Y. (2016). Parenting stress of grandparents and other kin as informal kinship caregivers: A mixed methods study. Children and Youth Services Review , 69, 29-38 22 Ssa, ordp. State Plans for Child Welfare Services . Act §4422. Retrieved February 24, 2022, from https:// www.bia.gov/as-ia/raca/archived-regulatory-efforts/ nacsa#:~:text=The%20Native%20American 23 Avery, R. J. (2010). An examination of theory and promising practice for achieving permanency for teens before they age out of foster care. Children and Youth Services Review, 32(3), 399-408
to child abuse and neglect central registry checks. 16 This is another barrier to licensing requirements for Kin, especially considering how quickly some guardians are pressed into being caregivers. There are also problematic licensing standards within foster care placement manuals across all fifty states that have negative impacts on relative placement, one being upper age limits. Six states (AR, DE, LA, MD, WV, and WI) set a limit of 65 years. Only two states (NJ and ND) include anti-age discrimination language in their regulation of foster caregivers and two states (MO and NV) do not have age limits for placements. 17 Proof of citizenship or legal residency is required to become a foster parent in at least eight states, making it difficult for Kin who are not documented to qualify for licensing. Certain states have income requirements that explicitly state foster parents must have adequate income to care for the child without reliance on foster care payments. This creates additional barriers to licensure for families in poverty or with low income. 18 Finally, The Native American Children’s Safety Act clearly applies background checks (criminal record and child abuse registry) to tribal placements of children in foster care settings. The act provides that a tribe may not place a child in foster care with an individual for any of the prohibited crimes given in Title IV-E of the SSA (i.e., those at Section 471(a)(20)(A)(i)and(ii)). There does not appear to be an exception for relative placement. 19 Eligibility for Kinship Guardianship Assistance As of June 2021, there are 53 Title IV-E agencies with approved plans to receive federal funding for guardianship assistance claims. However, 10 states do not have Title IV-E GAP. 20 Without it, many families do not have the necessary financial assistance to support their loved ones. Of the previously mentioned 1.65 million children living with their grandparents, 48 percent of those who live in grandmother- only housing live in poverty. 21 Through the recommendations outlined below, practical ways of combating income disparities and uplifting foster families can be achieved.
Charles E. Lewis, Jr.
Recommendations Relative Criminal Background Checks
The act provides that a tribe may not place a child in foster care with individuals for whom any of prohibited crimes given in Title IV-E of the SSA (i.e., those at Section 471(a) (20)(A)(i) and (ii)). Without an exception for relative placements, youth are placed at risk. Currently, language is aligned with IV-E, but without conforming amendments, changes to IV-E could create unintended differences for Not all states implement KinGap. This has implications for Kin caregivers in those states and for tribes in those states with tribal- state agreements for Title IV-E. For example, a tribe with a tribal-state IV-E agreement cannot implement KinGap if the state does not choose to operate the program. In addition, many states that have KinGap do not use the program. relatives of tribal children. Eligibility for Kinship Guardianship Assistance Requiring Implementation of KinGAP To amend this problem, states should be required to implement KinGAP. Additionally, encourage states to implement KinGap by delinking KinGAP from AFDC eligibility requirements. Delink by removing “foster parent” requirement: Amend 471(a)(28) “at the option of the State, provides for the State to enter into Kinship guardianship assistance agreements to provide Kinship guardianship assistance payments on behalf of children to grandparents and other relatives who have assumed legal guardianship of the children for whom they have cared as foster parents and for whom they have committed to care on a permanent basis, as provided in section 473(d).
Inclusion of All Types of Relative/Kin Placements Potential Kinship caregivers are denied the opportunity to care for the children they love because of old criminal convictions that do not directly implicate child safety. To address the issue, amend 471(a)(20)(C) to apply to all types of relative/Kin placements (i.e., foster, adoptive, and guardianship) and conform language with the employee requirements in (D). 471(a)(20)(A) and (B)) In most cases, there should be less strict criminal history requirements for relatives seeking to foster than for strangers. This proposal avoids conflicts with the Adam Walsh Act and can be preferred over the prescriptive National Association of Regulatory Adminstration (NARA) licensing requirement. The bill would not direct a state on what it must do with the information received from a relative’s criminal records check (as with employees), and states are still free to follow the NARA model licensing standards and to propose alternative criminal history check procedures/requirements. And note for Tribal Children: Changes made for relative placements would require conforming changes for tribal children. The Native American Children’s Safety Act (P.L. 114- 165) amended the “character investigation” provision of the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Act to clearly apply background checks (criminal record and child abuse registry) to tribal placements of children in foster care settings.
72 | FIJ Quarterly | Fall 2022
FIJ Quarterly | Fall 2022 | 73
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