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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Develop written licensing procedures with clear timelines and processes, as well as an appeal process for kin who are denied licensure.
- Facilitate the licensing process by providing kin with assistance to complete necessary paperwork, obtain items that are required for licensing, make home modifications, etc.
- 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.
- 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.
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