Report to the Congress on Kinship Foster Care. Chapter 2 The Evolution of Kinship Care in Federal and State Policy


In examining how Federal policies have evolved to include kin, it is important to understand how and why the child welfare system grew out of, and has been intertwined with, income assistance policy. This history illustrates the ongoing debate over the appropriate public response to child poverty, including when to remove poor children from their parents’ homes. It also explains why Federal support for foster care, including kinship foster care, is tied to the income of the foster child’s own parent or guardian and why the role of kinship networks has been particularly important in minority communities. Only recently has Federal child welfare legislation begun to acknowledge the role and unique circumstances of kin acting as foster parents. In the meantime, States have had some latitude in applying Federal child welfare policies designed for non-kin foster families to kinship foster families and considerable latitude in determining how to serve kin not receiving Federal foster care benefits.

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