April 2005Vol. 6, No. 3Assistance for Children in Kinship Care Remains Low
Government financial support for children in kinship care remains low, despite the fact that most are eligible for some type of assistance. This is the finding of the authors of a new Urban Institute issue brief, titled Estimating Financial Support for Kinship Caregivers. Using data from the 2002 round of the National Survey of America's Families, the authors analyzed responses from a national sample of caregivers to determine both eligibility and receipt of assistance.
While financial support for children in all types of kinship care is low, children in private kinship care receive the least amount of financial support, although nearly all are eligible for some kind of assistance. Traditionally, private kinship care children have less contact with the child welfare system; therefore, the benefits available to them may not be clearly defined. Their caregivers may be less likely to understand the eligibility requirements for various types of assistance, such as TANF child-only payments.
Compared to children in private kinship care, children in State custody (usually placed by the courts) have greater eligibility for assistance; however, only one-half to one-third receive foster care payments. This may be due to the fact that foster care licensure requirements are considered complex and financially burdensome and may create barriers to receiving foster care payments. In fact, 32 percent of these children receive no payment at all for their care.
Low levels of payment receipt for all children in kinship care may indicate a need to change policy and increase outreach efforts. States should focus on various strategies of outreach and support for both public and private kinship caregivers. States need to ensure that children are safe and that kin caregivers have the resources to provide high-quality care.
The complete issue brief, Estimating Financial Support for Kinship Caregivers, by J. Murray, J. Ehrle Macomber, and R. Geen, was published in December 2004 and is available on the Urban Institute website at www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/311126_B-63.pdf (PDF 184 KB).
The topic of kinship care was addressed in previous issues of Children's Bureau Express:
- "New Research Sheds Light on Kinship Care Issues" (August 2003)
- "Kinship Care Policies Differ by State, Continue to Evolve" (March 2003)