Kinship Care Trends Across the Nation

Widely regarded by child welfare professionals as the best placement option for foster children, kinship care has been on the rise in the United States. Collectively, child welfare agencies have been pushing for more kinship placements as reports show that outcomes improve for children placed into the care of relatives.   These kinship care trends are signs that our child welfare system is working.  From a legislative standpoint, however, the major breakthrough in kinship care came in the form of the Fostering Connections for Success and Increasing Adoptions Act (FCSIA, also known as the Fostering Connections Act).

kinshiptrends

Laying the Groundwork for Kinship Care Trends

Passed in 2008, this bill paved the way for kinship care throughout the nation. Although “kinship care” as a concept was introduced to the US child welfare system as early as 1978 (way it was vs way it is link), it wasn’t until 1990s that it was regulated and supported by federal funds, becoming endorsed by the federal government as a specific program within foster care. At that time, more than 75% of the children in kinship care were in private or unlicensed homes.

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Kinship in Crisis: Kinship Waiver Issues

On September 6th, 2016, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy announced that the state was placing a record number of children in care with relatives.  This form of foster care, in which children are placed with direct relatives or close family friends and often relies on a special kinship waiver, is known as kinship care.

 
Kinship Waiver Issues
Of kinship care, Governor Malloy said:

“We know that the trauma children experience from being removed from their home is significantly diminished if the child lives with someone they know and love – a family member or another person with an established connection. We are building a system for the future and this is another milestone in that effort.”

This system for the future is already making great progress.  At the time of his announcement, Governor Malloy boasted that 42% of all placements in the state were kinship placements, the highest level the state ever achieved and close to double the amount of such placements compared to five years ago.  In a world where kinship is rapidly becoming the new gold standard for child welfare, these numbers represent tremendous progress in helping minimize the trauma associated with entering the foster care system. Continue reading

The Lost Ones: Reconciling Kinship Care with Undocumented Immigrant Children

Although unintended, deportation often results in the children of undocumented immigrants being placed into the foster care system.

Madison, WI, USA- February 18, 2016 - group of people protesting new Wisconsin immigration laws

The Cost of Deportation

A table describing various reasons and ways undocumented immigrant children enter New Jersey.

This table shows a snapshot of some ways children may enter the country. (New Jersey Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect Conference, 2013)

In the United States in 2011, 5,100 children in the foster care system were U.S. citizens born to deported undocumented immigrant parents. From 2010 to 2012, 204,810 deportees were parents of U.S.-born children. According to a report by the National Center for Child Welfare Excellence, “For every two immigrants taken into custody, one child is left behind.” Quoting the Supreme Court case Plyler v. Doe, Lianne Pietro states:

…those who elect to enter our territory by stealth and in violation of our law should be prepared to bear the consequences, including, but not limited to, deportation. But the children of those illegal entrants are not comparably situated. Their “parents have the ability to conform their conduct to societal norms,” and presumably the ability to remove themselves from the State’s jurisdiction; but the children who are plaintiffs in these cases “can affect neither their parents’ conduct nor their own status.”

Especially in border states, the topic of illegal immigration spurs on hours of rhetoric and in-fighting, whether on the floor of the legislature or at home. While our politicians battle it out, however, something is forgotten:

The children.
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Kinship Caregiver Challenges – Where to Turn

Kinship Caregiver Challenges & Concerns

kinship caregiver challenges

Photo by Ricardo Santeugini

Kinship caregiver challenges are very similar to challenges faced by foster parents, but the emotional impact of raising a relative’s child is unique. While foster parents make a conscious, well-planned decision to take a child into their home, kinship caregivers often have to make the decision quickly and without preparation. Also, because the child is family, there are complex emotions that kinship parents must cope with, including being torn between the needs of the child they’re caring for and, in many cases, the wants of their own child.

There are many topics of concern that kinship caregivers face; here is a partial list: Continue reading