Children in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Child-Only Cases with Relative Caregivers. 2.7.3 State Initiatives


As a result of the increasing proportions of child-only cases with relative care in some states, initiatives are being developed to connect child-only families with needed prevention, treatment, and support services. While some of these programs are targeted specifically to child-only cases, some are targeted to kinship care cases in general (including those not receiving a child-only grant). Two prominent studies have investigated state initiatives: "Addressing the Well-Being of Children in Child-Only Cases" by Kaplan and Copeland (2001) and "On Their Own Terms: Supporting Kinship Care Outside of TANF and Foster Care" by Geen et al. (2001). Study staff used these two documents, in conjunction with information obtained during discussions with Regional Administrators, to compile a list of some of the programs and initiatives targeted to child-only cases and kinship care. These initiatives were then categorized by type of program or initiative focus.

Supplemental Financial Support

Colorado - Denver. In Denver, the TANF division of the Department of Human Services provides a supplemental child-only TANF payment and other supports to relatives caring for kin through their Grandparents and Kinship Care Program. With the additional cash assistance, the amount of the child-only payment is similar to the foster care monthly payment.

Florida. Under the Relative Caregiver Program, nonparent relatives can receive a cash payment each month to cover the cost of the child's basic needs. The payments are a maximum of $242 for children ages 0 to 5, $249 for children ages 6 to 12, and $298 for children ages 8 to 13. Eligibility is based on child's age, income, and other eligibility criteria. The relative must have a juvenile court order placing the child in their home under protective services.

Kentucky. The Kinship Care Program was initiated to administer services under the Kentucky Cabinet for Children and Families (an umbrella agency responsible for both child welfare and TANF). The Kinship Care Program provides greater financial support and services to nonparent relative caregivers. The program uses TANF funds, and the monthly payment is $300 per eligible child. The income and resources of the relative are not considered. The program aims to provide an amount closer to that of a licensed foster parent to kin caring for children who have been abused or neglected without requiring the relative to become a foster parent. Under the program, the relative assumes temporary custody of the adjudicated child and must agree to accept permanent legal custody of the child if reunification with the parent(s) is not an option.

Michigan. The Kinship Care and Family Preservation pilot project provides increased financial support, emergency financial payments, and community linkages to children ages 0 through 18 who are residing with a self-supporting relative caregiver. The caregiver must have petitioned for or been awarded guardianship of the child.

Missouri. The Grandparents as Foster Parents Program assists with payments equal to 75 percent of the foster care rate. Eligibility requirements include having legal guardianship and being at least 55 years of age.

Nevada. Nevada has two programs relative to child-only cases. The first is for nonneedy relative caregivers and includes a payment of $187 more per month for a child in relative care than through the regular TANF payment scale.

New Jersey. New Jersey has a program under Income Maintenance in the Division of Family Development that provides a $250 maintenance payment. This payment is midway between the regular TANF payment and the foster care payment.

Oklahoma. Oklahoma has implemented a Support Services Fund through the child-only TANF program. These funds are specifically targeted to child-only relative caregiver families. The funds can be used to supplement the child-only cash grant to purchase items such as clothing, school supplies, and sports registration fees.

Supplemental Services Support

Ohio. Ohio, through their Department of Jobs and Family Services, developed a Statewide Kinship Caregiver Services Program. The Program was developed based on recommendations in an agency task force report on grandparents raising grandchildren. The program offers subsidized child care, respite care for the caregiver, legal assistance, and training on how to deal with children with special needs. Additionally, a toll-free number is available for caregivers to call for information and referrals to services.

Pennsylvania. A nonprofit kinship foster care agency, A Second Chance, housed in Pittsburgh is working to address the needs of relative caregivers through a comprehensive approach to family issues and permanency. Families come to the agency through referrals from the County Department on Human Services after the child has been adjudicated as abused or neglected and placed with the relative. The agency works with the birth parent, the child, and the relative to address family issues and develop a permanency plan, recognizing that kinship care families have different needs than traditional foster care families.

Coordination between TANF and Child Welfare Systems

Colorado - El Paso. In El Paso County, the Department of Social Services (DSS) has worked to blend TANF and child welfare services educating relative caregivers about other services (e.g., child-welfare services). They have also prioritized kinship care for child welfare services, and the Director of the DSS has created a flexible pot of TANF dollars to meet identified needs of families with children in kinship care.

Wisconsin. The State of Wisconsin administers a Kinship Care program through the Department of Health and Family Services (the state child welfare program). Wisconsin offers a kinship care benefit of $215 per month for children in relative care. The caregiver need not be eligible for TANF to receive this benefit.

Lower Income Families

Alabama. Alabama initiated a KinShare Pilot Program targeting vulnerable families with incomes less than or equal to 200 percent of the poverty level. Their focus is on families in which the children are at risk of foster care placement. Services are available to help stabilize an existing placement with a nonparent relative. The target population is families receiving child-only TANF cash assistance benefits and families identified through the child welfare program. Services include child care, respite care, special needs payments, emergency intervention services, and counseling. The pilot began in one county in October 2000, and has expanded to five additional counties.

California. California implemented a Kinship Guardianship Assistance Payment (Kin-GAP) program. It is intended for children exiting the foster care system and entering a guardianship with a relative. To be eligible, the child must have lived with the relative for at least 12 months and relative guardianship must be established. Other requirements are similar to those of California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) and are based on financial need.

Louisiana. The Kinship Care Subsidy Program (KCSP) provides cash assistance for eligible children who reside with qualified relatives other than parents. Qualified caregivers must have incomes below 150 percent of the poverty line and have legal custody or guardianship. The KCSP subsidy payment is $222 per eligible child per month.

Nevada. The Kinship Care program is similar to the nonneedy relative program but offers even more of an increase in payment per month (a payment equal to 90 percent of the state monthly foster care rate). To qualify for this program, the relative caregiver must be over 62, have a minor child placed in their care for at least 6 months, and obtain legal guardianship of the minor relative child.

Relative Support Groups

Kentucky. Kentucky has a KinCare Project that is a statewide network of over 25 kinship care support groups. The meetings are held in Resource Center offices housed in public schools throughout Kentucky.

Oklahoma. Oklahoma's Aging Services Division sponsors an annual conference on grandparents raising grandchildren. The conference provides grandparents with information on state services such as child welfare and TANF. The Aging Services Division also funded a resource handbook for grandparents and distributed it at the conference.

Kinship Navigator Program

New Jersey. New Jersey implemented a Kinship Navigator Program designed to help caregivers navigate government services, such as TANF, food stamps, Medicaid, health insurance, and child care. The navigator assists with case management activities and can provide referrals to such support services as rental or utility assistance.

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