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Kinship/Guardianship

Promising Practices from States and Tribes

*Please note that these resources are specific to the state or tribe listed. Policy and practice concerning implementation of Fostering Connections may vary in different states and tribes.


Relative Search; Notice of Placement to Relatives; Relative Engagement

  • Iowa:
    • Notice to Relative - Letter (Revised: 2011)
      This form is used to notify the child’s relatives that the child has been removed from the parents’ home and ask if they are willing to be considered for placement of the child or if they would want to provide assistance or support for the child when they do not want to be considered for placement. The form identifies the possible resources available for the relative if the relative takes placement of the child and many of the requirements for the relative to become a licensed foster parent. 
    • Notice to Relative – Worksheet 
      This worksheet is used to document a child’s relative information when a child has been removed from their parents’ custody and the relative has received the Notice to Relative form (above) and has contacted the department to say they would want to be considered for placement of the child or can be used as an informal support for the child. 
    • Michigan IV-D Child Support Manual, Section on Foster Care – Case Management
      Managing foster care IV-D cases is similar to managing standard child support cases with the exception of a few unique considerations of the foster care program, and the distinctive interface between the Michigan IV-D and IV-E programs. This manual section includes guidance for applying updated case information, case closure requests, and county-of-jurisdiction case assignment information for establishment or enforcement of a child support order as required for foster care cases. (October 11, 2010)
  • Minnesota
    • Emergency Relative Placement Procedures
      The purpose of this bulletin is to guide county and tribal social services agencies that use emergency relative foster care procedures to place a child immediately with an unlicensed relative. (January 2, 2008)
  • North Carolina: Reaching Out to Relatives When Children Enter Foster Care 
    This article from Practice Notes, a resource for North Carolina’s child welfare social workers, offers practical suggestions for meeting policy and legal standards for searching for, and giving adequate notice to, extended family when children enter foster care in North Carolina. (December 2010)
  • North Dakota: Senate Bill No. 2087 
    Amendment relating to the rights and duties of a legal custodian. (January 2011)
    • Search for and Engagement of Relatives – OAR 
      This policy addresses legal obligations regarding placement preference; responsibilities to identify relatives and persons with a caregiver relationship; contact with relatives or persons with a caregiver relationship; assessment of a relative or person with a caregiver relationship for involvement in safety management; consideration of a relative or person with a caregiver relationship as a substitute caregiver; review of a child or young adult’s substitute care placement; and, opportunity for ongoing connection and support. This policy includes definitions and links to forms that apply. (September 1, 2010)

Foster Care Licensing Standards

  • Idaho: Resource Family Licensing for Relatives and Non-Relatives
    The purpose of this standard is to provide direction and guidance on the licensing and training requirements of relative and non-relative resource family homes. This standard addresses the following: Definitions related to the licensing of resource families; resource family licensing standards and requirements; waivers and variances to licensing requirements; expedited relative placement requirements and procedures; ongoing assessment, training and skill building for resource parents; and, responsibilities of the Child and Family Services social worker/clinician relation to placing children in alternate care. 
  • Missouri: Agency Arranged Relative or Kinship Care
    Child Welfare Manual, Section 4: Out-of-Home Care; Chapter 12: Relative or Kinship Care; Subsection 3: Agency Arranged Relative or Kinship Care Due to the Children’s Division Legal Custody. This section of the manual addresses: Required Action for Placement; Required Action Following Placement; Licensure Process; Benefits of Licensure; and, Placement in a Currently Licensed Home. (Effective Date: September 7, 2010) 
  • North Dakota: Licensed Relative Family Foster Care 622-05-15-17
    This resource provides examples of non-safety related licensing standards that may be waived when licensing a relative’s home, outlines the approval and decision making process by which waivers may be granted, and reviews required reporting and documentation. (Revised February 1, 2011)
  • Wisconsin:
    • Administrative Code - Foster Home Care for Children 
      This publication provides licensing information. It outlines which non-safety requirements the licensing agency or department exceptions panel may waive for the relative of a child without an alternative provision to meet the intent of the requirement. (Revised January 1, 2011)

Kinship Guardianship Assistance

  • Federal Title IV-E Guardianship Assistance Program State Policies and Laws
    The Children’s Bureau and NRCPFC have compiled information from States that have been approved to operate the Title IV-E GAP program. Based on the information provided in States’ IV-E plans, this list provides links to States’ Guardianship laws, policies, and other additional forms, such as the Guardianship Agreement. State contact information is also provided here when available. (2012)
  • California: Kin-GAP 
    The Kin-GAP program provides cash assistance to relative caregivers who become Legal Guardians of dependent foster youth placed in their home. This website offers an overview of the program, lists basic eligibility requirements, and includes a Questions and Answers section. 
    • Kinship/Guardianship Assistance Practice Guide 
      New York State Office of Children and Family Services developed this guide primarily as a resource for caseworkers who are assisting related foster parents in determining whether legal guardianship with support from the New York Kinship Guardianship Assistance Program (KinGAP) is an appropriate permanency option for children under their foster care. The Guide includes chapters on the following topics: Kinship Guardianship Assistance Background and Overview; Eligibility Criteria for the Kinship Guardianship Assistance Program; and, Engaging the Family in Making a Permanency Decision. The Appendices include useful practice tools. (May 2011)
T/TA & Web Based Resources from NRCs, Children’s Bureau, T/TA Network
  • Fact Sheets: Implementing a Guardianship Assistance Program and 
    Relative Notification and Waiver of Non-Safety Licensing Standards for Relatives 
    These resources are part of a series of fact sheets for States and Tribes made available by The Training and Technical Assistance Coordination Center (TTACC). These two-page briefs describe available training and technical assistance (T/TA) from the Children’s Bureau to support implementation of the Fostering Connections and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 in eight key areas. Each fact sheet offers a brief overview of the Fostering Connections Act’s provisions in the topic area, the allowable funding and costs for that area under the Act, and examples of the free training and technical assistance that the Children’s Bureau’s National Resource Centers and Implementation Centers can give States and Tribes in that area.
  • Guardianship: A Web-based Primer
    Guardianship is an extremely important area of child welfare policy and practice, and is huge in scope. Rather than attempting to address all guardianship issues in this document, in this new online resource, NRCPFC strategically presents an overview of the salient issues. It is intended as an online tool for programs, states and tribes where promising practices, programs and resources are made available. For this primer, NRCPFC thoroughly reviewed provisions in the legislation that address guardianship. Our goal is to provide the field with information on the components that support guardianship. This primer provides a broad array of resources from research, state policies, procedures and practice and includes an organizational self-study guide.
  • NRCPFC Toolkit: Kinship Care and the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 
    This new NRCPFC web-based toolkit discusses the critical kinship care practices addressed in the Fostering Connections Act: notice to relatives, foster care licensing standards, placement with siblings, and family connections grants. The toolkit provides information and links to resources on each of these topics. The toolkit is accompanied by an organizational self study on kinship care, which can be used to review kinship care policies and practices through the lens of the Fostering Connections Act.
  • Kinship Care and the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 
    This NRCPC information packet focuses on kinship care and looks at how the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoption Act of 2008 supports this out-of-home placement option.  An overview of kinship care is provided, along with the following sections: Facts and Statistics, Policies and Legislation, Best Practices and Model Programs, and additional resources.  Authored by Kim Hertz (May 2012); Edited by Lyn Ariyakulkan, MSW (August 2012)  
  • Child Support and Child Welfare Working Together to Foster Connections
    This PowerPoint was developed by Jan Rothstein, Policy Program Specialist, Children's Bureau Division of Policy, and LaShawn Williams, Policy Program Specialist, Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement, Division of Policy. It was presented by LaShawn Williams at the 2011 Policy to Practice Dialogue. (October 2011)
  • New Questions and Answers for the Child Welfare Policy Manual
    This document from the Children’s Bureau provides information on two new questions and answers that have been added to the Child Welfare Policy Manual. The new questions and answers are in the following sections of the Child Welfare Policy Manual: 
    • 8.1B TITLE IV-E, Administrative Functions/Costs, Allowable Costs - Foster Care Maintenance Payments Program 
      Question: What are examples of allowable administrative costs for the title IV-E Guardianship Assistance Program?
    • 8.5 Guardianship Assistance Program 
      Question: Is a title IV-E agency obligated to reimburse the non-recurring expenses (NREs) (e.g., legal fees) if the legal guardianship is never finalized?

Both are related to implementation of the Guardianship Assistance Program. (10/14/11) 

  • Fostering Connections: Guardianship Assistance Program
    This teleconference was available to State Foster Care Managers through the National Association of State Foster Care Managers and the National Resource Center for Permanency and Family Connections. Liliana Hernandez, Children’s Bureau, Child Welfare Program Specialist, presented on Title IV-E Guardianship Assistance Programs. New York and Montana described their experiences with GAP implementation and shared resources.  (September 2011)

    Texte alternatif


    (Listening time: 60 minutes)

Teleconference Materials:

  • Comprehensive Overview of ACF-PI-10-11 Regarding Guardianship Assistance Program (GAP)
    This PowerPoint on Fostering Connections was presented by Elizabeth Sharp, Program Specialist, Policy Division, Children's Bureau, on October 4, 2010 at the 2010 Policy to Practice Dialogue Conference in Washington, DC. It is a comprehensive overview of PI-10-11. ACF-PI-10-11 provides title IV-E agencies comprehensive information on the provisions of titles IV-B and IV-E as a result of the amendments made by the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008. Pages 10-16 address Title IV-E Guardianship Assistance Program (GAP).
  • What Court Systems Need to Know: Overview and Kinship Provisions 
    This PowerPoint Presentation is from a webinar offered by the National Child Welfare Resource Center on Legal and Judicial Issues on February 1, 2011. It was part of the webinar series, Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act: What Courts Need to Know. The series gave an overview of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act, explained how it changes current law, and focused on what the courts can do to help implement the law. The audio for the webinar is available by visiting the National Child Welfare Resource Center on Legal and Judicial Issues website
  • Recognition for Informal Kinship Care with Kinship Navigator Programs
    This article from the July/August 2010 Edition of Children’s Bureau Express discusses kinship navigator programs and provides an overview of an article by Gerard Wallace on kinship navigators featured in Common Ground, the newsletter for New England child welfare professionals, in February 2010.
  • Placement of Children with Relatives 
    In order for States to receive Federal payments for foster care and adoption assistance, Federal law under title IV-E of the Social Security Act requires that they “consider giving preference to an adult relative over a nonrelated caregiver when determining placement for a child, provided that the relative caregiver meets all relevant State child protection standards.” Title IV-E further requires States to exercise due diligence to identify and provide notice to all grandparents and other adult relatives of the child (including any other adult relatives suggested by the parents), that the child has been or is being removed from the custody of his or parents, explains the options the relative has to participate in the care and placement of the child, and describes the requirements to become a foster parent to the child. This resource from Child Welfare Information Gateway summarizes how States address this topic in statute and provides information on the statutes for specific States and territories. (2010)
  • Federal Parent Locator Service 
    This Administration for Children & Families, Office of Child Support Enforcement webpage addresses what the Federal Parent Locator Service (FPLS) is, how FPLS supports the states’ IV-D child support programs, who may request information from the FPLS, and the security of the information in the FPLS database. 
  • Children’s Bureau Family Connection Grant Projects 
    Visit the Family Connections Grantees page of the NRCPFC website to access information about demonstration grant projects that have been funded to initiate or expand programs in one, or any combination of, the following areas: Kinship navigator programs; Programs utilizing intensive family-finding efforts to locate biological family and reestablish relationships; Programs utilizing family group-decision making meetings; Residential family treatment programs. 
  • Children’s Bureau Releases Report on Kinship Licensing Standards Waivers 
    The U.S. Administration on Children, Youth, and Families released this report on state usage of waivers of nonsafety licensing standards in kinship care authorized in the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act. The 2008 law allowed child welfare agencies to waive licensing standards not related to safety for kinship arrangements when needed in an effort to make placements with relatives easier when a child is removed from their home. It also required follow-up analysis of state usage of the waivers, which was the subject of this report. Information tracked for the report includes fiscal year 2009 data on: (1) the number of children in both licensed and unlicensed relative foster homes; (2) the frequency of waiver usage and which standards were waived; (3) an assessment of how waivers have impacted the safety, permanence, and well-being of children in care; and (4) an analysis of the remaining obstacles to kinship placements and potential regulatory and legislative solutions. It hard to provide national estimates on licensed and unlicensed kinship care arrangements because of lack of uniformity in state definitions of licensed and unlicensed placements and the fact that not all of the relevant data was tracked by the states.  Still, the report provides an important glimpse into the use of kinship care placements and nonsafety licensing standard waiver usage around the country and also highlights the continuing obstacles to kinship care placements. Finally, the report discusses a number of potential solutions. (2011)
  • QIC-NRF Newsletter: Fostering Connections and Non-Resident Fathers
    The Winter 2010 Edition of the National Quality Improvement Center on Non-Resident Fathers and the Child Welfare System (QIC-NRF) newsletter discusses the 2008 Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act and its potential impact, focusing on how child welfare systems may be assisted in identifying, locating, and meaningfully engaging non-resident fathers. Articles include:
Resources from Collaborating Organizations
  • Relative Foster Care Licensing Waivers in the States: Policies and Possibilities 
    This publication is intended as a resource for states as they implement the kinship care provisions of The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act. The document is from Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) and the American Bar Association Center for Children and the Law, and was prepared in collaboration with ChildFocus, the Children's Defense Fund, Generations United, and the Grandfamilies State Law and Policy Resource Center. It provides information on licensing for relatives, including title IV–E reimbursement for relative foster homes, waivers of home licensing standards, and recommendations for “licensing standards that can help further the goal of maintaining family connections for children in foster care.”  Examples of waiver policies from many states are detailed. (September 2010)
Evidence-Based Practice, Research, and Reports
  • Making It Work: Using the Guardianship Assistance Program (GAP) to Close the Permanency Gap for Children in Foster Care
    This report focuses specifically on states’ implementation of the Title IV-E Guardianship Assistance Program, which was established in the Fostering Connections Act of 2008. At the time of publication, 29 states, the District of Columbia and one Indian tribe, had received approval to operate GAP from the Children’s Bureau, ACYF, DHHS; officials in each were interviewed for the report. The goal of this report is to highlight the leadership and good work being done by those state child welfare agencies and the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, sometimes in partnership with relative caregivers and other stakeholders, to ensure more children in foster care have access to permanent families and relative guardians when appropriate. The report describes key elements and challenges of GAP implementation and lessons learned to date. It offers suggestions to states that have not yet applied for GAP funds or are in the early stages of GAP implementation. It also includes for each of the jurisdictions interviewed a narrative summary and fact sheet describing GAP implementation activities. This report was a collaborative project of the Children’s Defense Fund, Child Trends, American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law, Casey Family Programs, Child Focus, and Generations United. (2012)

  • The License Status of Kinship Foster Parents and the Safety of Children in their Care 
    This document was prepared by the Children and Family Research Center for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. It explores a series of analyses conducted by the Center to examine the following questions: 1) Are licensed kinship foster homes safer than unlicensed kinship foster homes? How does each of these compare to licensed traditional foster homes? 2) Is the relationship between placement type (kin or non-kin), license status, and safety accounted for by differences in demographic or case characteristics such as child’s age, child’s race, number of other children in the home, or regional location? (March 2009)