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September/October 2011Vol. 12, No. 7Waiving Nonsafety Licensing Requirements for Relative Caregivers

The Children's Bureau recently issued a new report to Congress that provides information from all 50 States, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia on their use of the licensing waiver option provided by the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008. This act allows States, on a case-by-case basis, to waive some of the non-safety-related licensing requirements for kinship caregivers who choose to become licensed foster care parents and receive foster care payments.

The States provided data for fiscal year (FY) 2009:

  • Fifteen States reported that they did not permit any waiving of licensing requirements for relative foster parents that year; another 11 States did not have systems in place to be able to report on the waivers.
  • Overall, States reported placing 115,594 children in either licensed or unlicensed relative homes in FY 2009.
  • Thirty-two States provided enough information to show that 16 percent of all foster care placements were with licensed kin; another 14 percent were with unlicensed kin.
  • More than 800 waivers were issued to kinship caregivers to waive non-safety-related requirements.
  • The requirements that were waived most often for relative foster parents related to sleeping arrangements or space requirements of the home, although States also waived some requirements related to training, income, age of applicant, definition of relative, and more.

States also reported on the benefits of the waiver option, which allowed more children to be placed more quickly with relatives. Reported advantages included placement stability, improved child well-being and reduced trauma, the ability to keep siblings together, and improved permanency. States also reported strategies for increasing licensing among kinship caregivers.

The Report to Congress on States' Use of Waivers of Non-Safety Licensing Standards for Relative Foster Family Homes is available on the Children's Bureau website: (277 KB)