5. Make Licensing And Financially Supporting Kin A Priority​

Kin first agencies seek to remove all barriers to licensing kin who can provide a safe and stable placement for the child. When licensing kin, caseworkers should examine the suitability of each caregiver in relation to the individual child, not just whether the caregiver can be licensed according to state or tribal licensing standards. Additionally, kin first agencies work diligently to remove barriers before allowing kin to remain unlicensed so they can have the same access to financial resources and other supports as non-kin. Many kin first agencies believe that unlicensed kinship care denies kin equal treatment.

Strategies for prioritizing licensing for kin include:

  1. Adopt the National Model Family Foster Home Licensing Standards or model tribal foster care standards, such as those developed by the National Indian Child Welfare Association for a common sense approach to licensing all foster parents, including kin.
  2. Implement a clear process for requesting and granting waivers and variances for non-safety licensing standards that will not adversely affect the child and are barriers to placement of the child with kin.
  3. Develop written licensing procedures with clear timelines and processes, as well as an appeal process for kin who are denied licensure.
  4. Facilitate the licensing process by providing kin with assistance to complete necessary paperwork, obtain items that are required for licensing, make home modifications, etc.
  5. Provide kin with all necessary information about the licensing process. In jurisdictions that provide the option to care for the child as an alternative to foster care, fully educate kin on the differences between caring for a child as a licensed foster parent versus as an alternative to foster care so they can make an informed decision about which is best for their family.
  6. Implement kinship specific training aimed at educating kin about their unique role and the expectations of the agency. Trainings should be culturally appropriate and trauma informed, recognize the unique family dynamics associated with kin care, and include examples that reflect the life circumstances of the kin participating.


Click here to download the full wikiHow guide

Click here to download the full Kinship Promising Practices brief


Promising State Examples

California’s ARC Funding Option Program

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California’s Approved Relative Caregiver (ARC) Funding Option Program allows either approved relative caregivers caring for a nonfederally eligible foster child, or relatives who cannot get licensed but care for children under a court-ordered placement to receive per-child, per-month payments , if their county opts into the program. The funding is equal to the amount licensed foster parents receive. If a county has not opted into ARC, kin caregivers receive CalWORKs, California’s TANF program, which provides less financial assistance to the families.

Tennessee Senate Bill 2398

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Effective January 1, 2023, Tennessee's Senate Bill 2398, provides a monthly stipend to reduce the financial strain on designated relative caregivers who have final custody orders for children in their care. The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services will be required to pay the caregivers an amount equal to 50% of the full nonrelative foster care board rate if certain conditions are met.

Illinois Extended Family Support Program (EFSP)

Emily Peeler 0 0

Illinois' Extended Family Support Program (EFSP) aims to support and stabilize caregivers who have cared for relative children for more than 14 days and have kept the family out of the child welfare system. The EFSP provides support for obtaining guardianship – including assistance with caregiver attorney fees, enrolling children in school, and obtaining the TANF child-only grant, subsidized day care and other benefits. The EFSP also provides cash assistance to support stabilization when necessary.

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