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May 2024Vol. 25, No. 4Analysis From a State-by-State Survey of Kinship Care Policies

A recent survey conducted by Child Trends for the Annie E. Casey Foundation sheds light on the evolving landscape of kinship care policies across states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. To be released in a five-part series of briefs throughout early 2024, the survey reveals increasing efforts by jurisdictions to promote kinship care and support caregivers involved with the child welfare system. In 2022, Child Trends surveyed state child welfare administrators from 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, with 46 completing the survey.

This executive summary offers survey highlights, including the five policy areas the series will examine, general trends in policy content and implementation, and recommendations for policymakers. The survey's recommendations focus on increased investment, data collection, and input from families with lived experience, as well as tools to help implement the new federal rule on kin-specific licensing.

The findings underscore states' growing reliance on placing children with relatives. They also highlight the urgent need to address disparities in assistance and services available to kinship caregivers. While progress has been made in promoting supported placements with kin, the analysis reveals that financial assistance and support services are often not needs-based, disadvantaging caregivers who are unable to meet licensing requirements.

New opportunities emerge with the U.S. Administration for Children and Families' September 2023 rule, allowing child welfare agencies to simplify the approval process for relative foster parents and access federal title IV-E foster care funds. This rule mandates states to provide licensed or approved kinship caregivers with the same financial assistance as nonrelative foster parents, presenting a significant shift in policy.

The survey's findings can inform policymakers in responding to these new opportunities, enhancing efforts to reduce barriers to licensing and increase support for kinship caregivers. The series will provide an indepth examination of state policies on kinship caregiving, covering areas such as licensure of kinship foster parents, support for unlicensed caregivers, kinship diversion policies, agency engagement with kinship caregivers, and the inclusion of kinship care families' perspectives in policy design.

Read the executive summary, "Family Ties: Analysis From a State-by-State Survey of Kinship Care Policies." The policy data and analysis will be released as a five-part series throughout early 2024.