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May 2009Vol. 10, No. 4Kinship Care Policies Vary by State

A recent report on State kinship care policies reveals a wide array of approaches to such issues as defining kinship, approving kinship placements, and providing support for kin caregivers. The report, State Kinship Care Policies for Children That Come to the Attention of Child Welfare Agencies, presents the findings from the 2007 Casey Kinship Foster Care Policy Survey.

Many kinship care placements are "voluntary" or private arrangements between the child's parents and the relative providing care. State child welfare agencies typically have no ongoing involvement with these placements. In this report, authors Tiffany Allen, Kerry DeVooght, and Rob Geen focus on policies to regulate kinship placements that have been made by the State agency for children under their supervision. Key findings from the survey include:

  • Most States encourage and/or require caseworkers to seek out kin who can care for children to avoid placement in foster care.
  • In most States, kin are permitted to care for children in State custody without meeting the same licensing standards that nonkin foster parents must meet.
  • In many States, kin do not have to complete the full licensure process to receive a monthly foster care payment.

The report notes that recent Federal legislation has promoted kin as valuable resources to child welfare agencies, and the legislation has attempted to provide guidance to States about how to support kin caregivers. However, further guidance may be needed to ensure that kin caregivers receive the same support and services as nonkin caregivers.

The survey and report were sponsored by Casey Family Programs and the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The report is available from the ChildTrends website: (1,278 KB)