Children in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Child-Only Cases with Relative Caregivers. 4.3.2 Licensed and Unlicensed Relative Foster Care


For those children who are in child welfare custody, states vary in their requirements and supports for relatives providing care. As described in Section 2.4, most states offer some flexibility in licensing or approval processes to relative caregivers who do not meet all of the training and home inspection criteria required of nonrelative foster parents. Depending on the type of license and whether the child is eligible for Federal foster care support under terms of Title IV-E of the Social Security Act, relatives may receive the full foster care stipend, a modified amount, or the equivalent of child-only TANF.

States visited for this study varied dramatically in the extent to which relatives participated as licensed foster parents, as shown in Table 4-4. For example, Oklahoma encourages relatives to pursue licensure. While many relative caregivers receive child-only TANF as interim support while completing licensing requirements, relatively few choose to remain as unlicensed foster parents. Maryland reports that relative caregivers are evenly divided between licensed and unlicensed (approved) status. Other states, such as Washington, report that few relatives are willing to pursue licensure, although they are encouraged to do so. Among children in foster care with relative caregivers in Washington, an estimated 10 percent are in the care of relative caregivers who are also licensed foster parents (Mayfield, Pennucci, and Lyon, 2002). Because state child welfare systems do not necessarily track data on whether relative caregivers are licensed, and TANF agencies are not required to track the child welfare status of children in TANF child-only cases with relative caregivers, estimates of the prevalence of these arrangements are not readily available, even to those within the child welfare or TANF agency.

Table 4-4.
Licensed and Unlicensed Relative Foster Care
  Louisiana Maryland Oklahoma Washington Wisconsin
Estimated children in unlicensed relative care Not available(a) 2,000 500 3,500 1,700
Estimated children in licensed relative care Not available 2,000 Not available 400 Not available
Requirements for licensed relative care Same as for nonkin Modified Same as for nonkin Same as for nonkin Same as for nonkin
Supervision for licensed relative care(b) Same as for nonkin Same as for nonkin Same as for nonkin Same as for nonkin Less than for nonkin
(a): Louisiana estimates 1,075 children in relative foster care but cannot estimate the proportions in licensed and unlicensed care.
(b): Source: Boots and Geen, 1998.

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