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February 2011Vol. 12, No. 1Fostering Connections and Relative Foster Care Placement

The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act includes a number of provisions designed to help children maintain connections with their families of origin, including a requirement to identify and provide notice to all adult relatives when children enter care, an option to provide continuing support to children who exit care to live with relatives, and a provision that allows States to waive non-safety-related licensing standards, on a case-by-case basis, for relatives who wish to become licensed as foster parents.

Relative Foster Care Licensing Waivers in the States: Policies and Possibilities, a new publication from the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) and the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law, provides an overview of States' current foster family home licensing policies and rules pertaining to waivers as they apply to both title IV-E and nontitle IV-E eligible foster homes. The publication presents background information on licensing for relatives and includes an overview of IV-E reimbursement for relative foster homes, a State-by-State survey of the current landscape of waivers of foster home licensing standards, and recommendations for licensing standards that can help further the goal of maintaining family connections for children in foster care.

The general and waiver-specific licensing recommendations include:

  • Build flexibility into licensing standards.
  • Make appropriate use of variances.
  • Ensure staff members receive regular training on licensing policies and waiver practices.
  • Use administrative funds to assist relatives in becoming licensed.
  • Provide waivers when safe and appropriate.
  • Include protections to ensure waivers are used appropriately.

This document was prepared in collaboration with ChildFocus, the Children's Defense Fund, Generations United, and the Grandfamilies State Law and Policy Resource Center. It is available on the CLASP website: (175 KB)