On Their Own Terms: Supporting Kinship Care Outside of TANF and Foster Care. Financial Assistance


Thirteen of the 23 alternative programs initially identified as not providing subsidized guardianship do not provide financial assistance. However, financial assistance is a key component in many of the programs we visited (see Table 4). In programs providing a monthly payment, the payment may continue until the child reaches the age of 18 or 21. Some programs, in addition to providing a monthly payment, provide emergency financial assistance or financial assistance targeted for specific items, e.g., furnishings, school clothing.

"I felt so low when I had to apply for benefits. But I knew it was for my [grandchild]."
  • Monthly financial assistance. As discussed earlier, the impetus for many of the alternative kinship programs was to provide additional financial assistance and stability to kinship care arrangements. Programs administering a monthly payment include Denver, Florida, Kentucky's child welfare alternative program, and A Second Chance in Pittsburgh. And, while the Kinship Support Network does not administer a monthly payment, the majority of its clients do receive some sort of monthly financial assistance either through receipt of a foster care payment or TANF child-only payment.

    For programs providing a monthly payment, the rates vary along a continuum with the highest equal to the foster care rate and the lowest set at the TANF child-only rate. In Pittsburgh, A Second Chance licenses relatives as foster parents and they receive monthly payments equal to the county's foster care rate. Florida's program provides a monthly payment close to the foster care rate (relatives do not become licensed foster parents). Denver's program provides a supplemental payment in addition to the TANF child-only payment, creating a monthly payment closer to the foster care rate.

Table 4:
Financial Assistance by Study Program
Program Financial Assistance
Monthly financial payment Emergency financial assistance Other (school clothing allowance)
A Second Chance, Inc. (Pittsburgh, PA) Yes. Payment equal to foster care rate. Yes. Yes. Quarterly clothing allowance and program has child clothing bank.
Grandparents and Kinship Program (Denver County, CO) Yes. Payment for one child is close to foster care rate, 3 times as much as TANF child-only. Payment for more than one child is less than foster care rate. Yes. Yes.
Relative Caregiver Program (Florida) Yes. Payment approx. 76% of foster care payment, twice TANF child-only payment (65% of foster care rate when clothing allowances and other payments to foster parents taken into account). No. No.
The Kentucky Kinship Care Program (child welfare) Yes. Payment is 50% of foster care rate, 160% of TANF child-only rate. Yes. One-time start-up payment up to $500 per child. Preventive assistance funds up to $500/family once per year. No.
The Kentucky KinCare Project (support groups) No. No. No.
The Kinship Support Network (San Francisco, CA) No. However, majority of clients are receiving foster care payment. Yes. No. Program has child clothing bank and food bank.
Oklahoma No. No. Subsidized respite care
  • Payments until child is an adult. In the programs visited, monthly financial assistance payments may continue until the child turns 18 or 21. Program planners and administrators view the monthly payments as a way to provide continuing support to families until the child reaches adulthood. Florida's revised child welfare statute creates a new permanency option (i.e., long term relative care) expressly for this purpose. In Kentucky's child welfare alternative program, the child is eligible for the monthly payment until they leave home or turn 19 (as long as they are a full-time student). In Denver, children are eligible for the TANF child-only supplemental payment until they turn 18 (or 19 if full-time student); however, program respondents noted that the TANF-funded supplement is dependent upon the availability of funds.
  • Other types of financial and in-kind assistance. Additional financial assistance often takes the form of annual clothing allowances used to purchase school uniforms or school clothes. Other uses of financial assistance include paying for child-related furnishings (e.g., bunkbeds) or children's extracurricular activities. Some programs provide a one-time start-up payment while others provide an annual or quarterly amount.

    Kentucky's child welfare alternative program recipients are eligible for a one-time, start-up payment of up to $500 per child and preventive assistance funds of up to $500 per family per year. In addition, kin served by A Second Chance in Pittsburgh are eligible for a quarterly clothing allowance and may receive financial assistance to meet emergency needs. Denver participants are also eligible for a clothing allowance ($1000 per year per family) and emergency financial assistance (no set limit).

    In San Francisco, the Kinship Support Network has an on-site food bank, and children's clothing, toys and car seats are offered to kinship families. Kentucky's kinship support group program does not provide any direct financial assistance but the support groups are intended to increase grandparents' awareness of and access to financial support programs.