Report to the Congress on Kinship Foster Care. Issues

06/01/2000

The remainder of this policy discussion focuses on issues the child welfare field is facing regarding kinship foster care; issues that arise in various forms in communities throughout the nation. There is currently wide variation in practice among the States regarding the use of relatives as foster parents, including under what circumstances they are used as foster parents, how they are assessed as suitable caretakers, how child safety and family progress is monitored, and how relative foster parents are supported with services and financial assistance. In considering these matters, departmental policy officials and staff have listened to the Advisory Panel, have reviewed the available research and data, and have tried to remain true to the principles laid out above. Finally, we are humbled by the difficulty of the decisions that must be made every day in the best interests of children and recognize that it is impossible at the Federal level and complex at any level to determine the wisest courses of action in individual cases.

The issues discussed below are grouped in the following categories:

  • Selection, assessment and supervision of relative caregivers;
  • Financial assistance for relative caregivers;
  • Non-financial assistance for relative caregivers;
  • Kinship care as a permanency option for children;
  • Interactions between foster care payments and other Federal programs; and
  • Gaps in research, evaluation and information upon which to base policy and management decisions.

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