One of the major contributions of the Advisory Panel was a discussion of principles that should guide the analysis of kinship foster care issues. Before entering into discussions of specific issues related to kinship foster care, the Advisory Panel framed tenets to ground their discussions. While there was significant agreement among the panel members and the Department as to the content of a set of principles, the wording and order of principles presented in this report reflect the Department’s position. The principles below are recommended as guidelines for all policy and practice deliberations on the role of relatives as foster parents:
- The focus of the child welfare system is and must continue to be the safety, permanency, and well-being of children who have been abused or neglected or who are at risk of abuse or neglect.
- Decisions regarding relatives’ roles must be based on the child’s best interests, consideration of which must include, in part, an assessment of the relative’s capacity to care for the child both in the short term as well as permanently, should the parent(s) be unable to resume custody.
- The child welfare system should not replace or supplant the role of voluntary family efforts or income assistance programs.
- Relatives should be viewed as potential resources in achieving safety, permanence, and well-being for children. They should be assessed on a case-by-case basis to determine if they are the most effective caregiver to advance these goals for the child. Relatives may serve either in temporary or permanent caretaker roles.