On Their Own Terms:  Supporting Kinship Care Outside of TANF and Foster Care

Chapter IV:
Administering Alternative Kinship Care Programs

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Endnotes

A defining feature of alternative kinship programs is the diversity of administrative and program structures which are used to operate and deliver services. In part, this diversity reflects differences in these programs' orientation and goals, target population, service focus, and funding sources.

Program Administration, Structure, and Staffing

Alternative kinship care programs may be administered by public agencies-including administrative entities responsible for TANF, child welfare, and aging services-or by private, community-based agencies.

Alternative kinship care programs may be administered by public agencies--including administrative entities responsible for TANF, child welfare, and aging services--or by private, community-based agencies. All subsidized guardianship programs identified are publicly administered. However, both private and public agencies operate the remaining alternative kinship care programs. Of those identified, 14 are administered by public agencies and 9 are administered by private agencies.

Table 1:
Type of Organization Administering the Alternative Kinship Care Programs,
by Study Program
Program Administering Entity
Child Welfare TANF Aging Private Agency Other
A Second Chance, Inc. (Pittsburgh, PA)       X  
Grandparents and Kinship Program (Denver County, CO)   X      
Relative Caregiver Program (Florida) X        
The Kentucky Kinship Care Program (child welfare) X        
The Kentucky KinCare Project (support groups)     X   X
The Kinship Support Network (San Francisco, CA)       X  
Oklahoma     X    

In Denver, the TANF agency created a specialized staff unit composed of different types of staff--a social worker, a case manager, and TANF eligibility workers--to operate its alternative program. In addition, an intra-agency team representing TANF, Family and Children Services, Child Support Enforcement, and Adult Services was formed in order to ensure that the alternative kinship program is integrated into the agency's overall offerings without duplication of services.

In Florida's Relative Caregiver program and Kentucky's child welfare alternative program, there is some local-level variation in how the program is structured and staffed. In general, however, the financial eligibility and payment component is handled by TANF eligibility workers and the case management component of the program is handled by child welfare workers. This arrangement prompted several administrators in Florida to characterize their alternative kinship care program as representing the nexus of the public welfare and child welfare systems.

Kentucky's support group program staff believe that their location within public schools is critical to their success.

Kentucky's support group program is overseen by a statewide steering committee. The steering committee provides guidance and direction to the local program staff, develops grass roots strategies and models for implementation, and identifies and promotes a grandparents agenda (e.g., medical and educational consent laws, TANF funding). At the local level, Kentucky's support group program operates through school-based Family Resource and Youth Service Centers with Family Resource Center Coordinators as staff members. Kentucky's support group program staff believe that their location within public schools is critical to their success. Among other things, it allows them to easily identify children being cared for by grandparents and other relatives and to reach out to these families.

"One thing I really like about the pro-gram is the fact that it provided us with work…. When you are… overwhelmed with responsibility, and on the dependen-cies that go with it, it's so dreadful to not have work to do - you know, something that [lets] you say, 'I do this and I'm under orders, I account to someone. You know I'm paying for my ser-vices…' It's like a value-for-value thing. It seems to [give] you the pleasure you get from work…. That's how the program helped me, it gave me back my self-esteem…."

The two private nonprofit programs visited focus solely on providing services to kinship care families. A Second Chance, Inc. in Pittsburgh was established for the purpose of providing services to kinship families referred by the county child welfare agency. A board of directors and an advisory board provide oversight. The Kinship Support Network in San Francisco operates under the auspices of the Edgewood Center for Children and Families, with oversight by its Board of Directors. The Edgewood Center operates primarily as a residential treatment facility. The Center's Kinship Support Network is located in a different part of the city from the Edgewood Center and has its own organizational identity, although program respondents noted the Kinship Support Network had derived significant benefits from having a supportive, well established, and respected parent organization.

In part because the community-based programs visited provide a more comprehensive set of services in-house than the other programs, they employ a larger number and mix of staff than the publicly administered programs visited. Of particular note, both programs find it valuable to use members from their client target populations to fill some staff positions. For example, a birth parent previously served by A Second Chance in Pittsburgh facilitates ongoing support groups for other birth parents in the program. Similarly, many of Edgewood's Kinship Support Network's full-time case managers and support group facilitators are older caregivers themselves. In fact, the case manager position historically was filled solely by caregivers in the community. As the program and its services became more comprehensive, staff with more specialized training and experience were added. It was emphasized in our discussions with administrators and staff that drawing upon members of the community allows staff positions to be filled by individuals who understand and relate well with program participants because of their common experience. It also lends a certain amount of credibility to the program in the eyes of participants.

Administrators from both programs feel that the fact that they are private, community-based organizations en-hances their ability to gain the trust of kinship care families and meet their needs.

Program staff from A Second Chance and Edgewood's Kinship Support Network generally feel that there are several significant advantages to operating programs for kinship caregivers through a community-based organization. Administrators from both programs feel that the fact that they are private, community-based organizations enhances their ability to gain the trust of kinship care families and meet their needs. They believe community based organizations are in a better overall position to tailor their services to the needs of the families they serve because they are less constrained by rules and regulations than their public counterparts and have a more sensitized and comprehensive understanding of the local community, culture and residents.

Finally, Oklahoma's efforts in the area of alternative kinship care represent a collection of services and resources available to relatives caring for children that has evolved under the leadership of the Division of Aging Services within the Department of Human Services. Other agencies and programs are involved in different pieces of this effort and a taskforce has been formed to facilitate and promote ongoing collaboration.

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Program Funding Levels and Sources

The amount of funding needed to support the alternative programs visited varies extensively, reflecting significant differences between the programs in their size, scope and services. The programs visited also rely on a variety of different funding sources, including both private and public monies.

Funding Levels

Florida's statewide program, which provides financial payments in addition to case management is the largest program visited, serving over 10,000 children and costing over $25 million annually. Kentucky's child welfare alternative program--also a statewide program with a financial payment component--had an $8 million budget for fiscal year 2000 and serves approximately 2,000 children. The county-wide Denver Grandparents and Kinship Program has a $5.6 million annual budget and serves about 1,400 families. A Second Chance in Pittsburgh has an annual budget of approximately $12 million to provide foster care payments and a wide range of services to an ongoing caseload of more than 700 children and their families. Edgewood's Kinship Support Network--a service-rich program with no financial payment component--has a annual budget of approximately $2.5 million and serves about 400 families annually.

Oklahoma and Kentucky's support group programs are less expensive endeavors and require less funding. Both states started the support groups with $10,000 in foundation funded seed money. At the time of our visit, Oklahoma still had foundation grant support available. Kentucky had exhausted its foundation support, and program costs were being covered by the local Family Resource and Youth Service centers.

Funding Sources

Alternative kinship care programs receive funding from of a variety of sources including the TANF block grant, child welfare funding (federal, state and local), and funding dedicated to aging services (Table 2). Foundations and other private entities also provide financial support for kinship care activities. Ten of the subsidized guardianship programs identified are funded through TANF while 14 rely on state funds and one relies on funds from the federal Social Services Block Grant. Of the 23 other programs identified, 4 receive TANF funds, 1 receives other federal funds, 13 receive state funds, 8 receive local funds, and 10 receive private financial support.

Table 2:
Funding Sources, by Study Program
Program Funding Source
Child Welfare TANF Other
A Second Chance, Inc. (Pittsburgh, PA) X   X
Grandparents and Kinship Program (Denver County, CO)   X  
Relative Caregiver Program (Florida)   X  
The Kentucky Kinship Care Program (child welfare)   X  
The Kentucky KinCare Project (support groups)     X
The Kinship Support Network (San Francisco, CA) X * X
Oklahoma     X
*Although TANF funds are not used for general operating expenses, etc., the Kinship Support Network does receive TANF funding for a small initiative to work with probation officers to identify kinship families.

Officials from Kentucky's support group program noted that they have avoided securing TANF funding for several rea-sons. They feel that some kinship caregivers do not want to be involved with the TANF system because of the stigma associated with welfare and receiving a "hand-out."

TANF. The TANF block grant is a flexible funding source that can be used to fund alternative kinship care programs, even if the participants are not receiving TANF cash assistance. In fact, three of the programs visited are entirely TANF-funded (Florida's Relative Caretaker Program, Denver's Grandparents and Kinship Program and Kentucky's child welfare alternative program). Of these, only Denver's program is designed to serve TANF families. Two programs--A Second Chance in Pittsburgh and Edgewood's Kinship Support Network in San Francisco expressed interest in securing TANF funding but noted that attempts to do so were unsuccessful.

Not all programs, however, view TANF as a desirable funding source. For example, Officials from Kentucky's support group program noted that they have avoided securing TANF funding for several reasons. They feel that some kinship caregivers do not want to be involved with the TANF system because of the stigma associated with welfare and receiving a "hand-out." Other families, according to staff, simply do not want the government involved in their lives. Additionally, the state's support group program is a grassroots effort; many administrators feel that adding TANF funding would take the control away from them.

Child welfare. Among our study sites, only two programs receive child welfare funding. A Second Chance in Pittsburgh and the Kinship Support Network in San Francisco--both community-based programs--receive substantial funding from the local social services agency responsible for child welfare services.

Multiple funding sources. Several kinship care programs visited rely on a mix of public and private funding. For example, A Second Chance in Pittsburgh has relied on support from several local foundations (e.g., the Pittsburgh Foundation) to supplement the funding it receives through its contract with the local child welfare agency. Oklahoma relies on a grant from the Brookdale Foundation to fund its kin caregiver support groups, and the Aging Services Division within the Department of Human Services allocates funding from its budget to support respite care payments for older caregivers and an annual conference for grandparent caregivers. The Brookdale Foundation also provided the original funding for Kentucky's support group program. The Kinship Support Network in San Francisco is supported through child welfare funding from the local department of social services, matching funds provided by its parent organization (i.e., Edgewood Center for Children and Families), and foundation support.

IV-E waivers. Although none of the programs visited received title IV-E waivers to implement their alternative programs, a number of states are supporting kinship caregivers under waivers received by HHS under title IV-E. Seven states (Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Oregon) use waivers to implement subsidized guardianship programs. In addition, under its IV-E waiver, the District of Columbia is testing a community-based service delivery model to improve outcomes for kinship care families. Administrators in both Florida and Kentucky's child welfare alternative program reported they had considered applying for a IV-E waiver when developing their statewide alternative kinship care programs but opted against it. They noted that HHS expressed a desire to approve waiver requests that tested new service delivery models rather than multiple waivers of the same model and several other states had already received waivers for kinship care related programs. They were also weary of the waiver evaluation requirements.

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Program Eligibility

While some programs have very specific eligibility requirements for caregivers and children, others serve virtually any kin caregivers seeking support and services.

Alternative kinship care programs visited vary considerably in terms of their eligibility requirements (Table 3). While some programs have very specific eligibility requirements for caregivers and children, others serve virtually any kin caregivers seeking support and services. Twelve of the non-subsidized guardianship programs identified have specific eligibility criteria; 11 have no criteria and provide services to any kinship care family in need.

Table 3:
Eligibility Requirements, by Study Program
Program Eligibility Requirement
TANF case(15) Child welfare case Court order/ adjudicated dependant Physical custody Temporary legal custody Child age 18 or younger(16) Caregiver relationship to child Coperation with CSE Residency Home study/ background check
A Second Chance, Inc. (Pittsburgh, PA)   X(17) X              
Grandparents and Kinship Program (Denver County, CO) X (18)     X X X   X    
Relative Caregiver Program (Florida) X (19)   X     X X(20) X X X
The Kentucky Kinship Care Program (child welfare) X (21) X     X(22) X X X   X
The Kentucky KinCare Project (support groups)                    
The Kinship Support Network (San Francisco, CA)                 X  
Oklahoma                 X(23)  

"I don't draw in money for my granddaughter and the reason why I don't is because I choose not to. Because my son, he helps me with her, and if I draw money for her that's going to send them after him, and I want him to get himself together because he has two more daughters."

"I allow my daughter to continue to receive [TANF] for my grandson, because she said she would take him back otherwise. So I get no financial assistance."

In some cases, eligibility requirements may serve as deterrents to program participation. For example, staff in Kentucky noted that some families choose not participate in the state's child welfare alternative program because they do not want to commit to permanent custody. Others may not want to be financially supported beyond medical assistance for the child. Some do not want a child welfare worker in their home and some feel there is a stigma attached to being involved with welfare. Many caregivers do not want to seek child support from the birth parents, although workers reassure caregivers that they will need to seek it eventually, anyway. In TANF-funded programs, some kinship caregivers noted that they were reluctant to cooperate with child support enforcement because they did not want to take money from their children or they were fearful that the birth parents would demand their children back.

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Endnotes

15. For the child.

16.Or 19 years if enrolled in school, with the exception of Florida's program.

17 Family must be referred by the child welfare agency.

18 Must have an active TANF case for the dependent child(ren) (i.e., child-only).

19. Caregiver must participate in annual TANF eligibility reviews.

20. Child must be within the 5th degree of relationship to the relative caregiver.

21. Caregiver must participate in annual TANF eligibility reviews.

22. Willingness to accept permanent custody after 12 months.

23. For respite voucher, only. All other services are open to all kin caregivers.


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Last updated:  10/29/01