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					     Kinship Care
      The “Heart” that Keeps
      Children Connected to
             Families
   A guide to exploring the kinship care option.
A Guide to Exploring the Kinship Care Options
What is
Kinship Care?
Kinship care means that a child
lives with a relative. This relative
may or may not have custody of
the child but has assumed care for
the child.


Kinship care is a way for children
to stay connected to family when
they have been voluntarily or
involuntarily removed from the
care of their parents. Removal
may become necessary due to a
parent’s illness, incarceration, lack
of housing, insufficient income,
abuse or neglect. Regardless of
the reason for kinship care, most
children fare better when
connections to family and loved
ones are maintained.
What Is the Role                            OPTION 1:
                                            Kinship care provider takes custody
Of the Kinship                              of a child.

Care Provider?                              As the child’s legal custodian, you can make
                                            decisions for the child, such as enrolling
                                            the child in school, approving medical
When the local department of social         procedures, etc. You may need to seek
services becomes involved, the Juvenile     support from community resources such as:
and Domestic Relations District Court          • Financial and Medicaid assistance–
judge determines whether a child will            You may apply for Child-Only
return to his or her parents or prior            Temporary Assistance to Needy
custodian, be placed in custody with             Families (TANF) through the local
relatives, or remain in state custody for        department of social services. The
placement in an approved foster home.            amount of TANF assistance for a
When the judge rules that the child will         child is based on where you live in
not return home to his or her parents,           the state. The assistance increases
there are three options for kinship care         in modest increments for additional
providers:                                       eligible children.
   1. The court could transfer custody         • Child support– Filing for child
      of the child to a kinship care             support is a requirement for
      provider (relative).                       obtaining TANF assistance. You
   2. The kinship care provider could            may do so through your local Child
      become an approved foster family           Support Enforcement office. Support
      with the local department of social        will be pursued from both parents.
      services having custody of the           • Child services– The local department
      child.                                     of social services may make referrals
   3. The kinship care provider who is a         for services deemed necessary for
      foster parent may choose to adopt          the child.
      the child if the court terminates     For all community services, the kinship care
      the rights of the child’s parents.    provider is responsible for following through
                                            with the necessary paper work and for
                                            obtaining other resources as needed.
OPTION 2:                                     OPTION 3:
Kinship care provider becomes an              Kinship care provider becomes the
approved foster family for a child.           adoptive parent for a child.
The child remains in custody of the local     Adoption occurs only after parental rights
department of social services but is placed   have been terminated. Adoption is a
with a kinship care provider who is an        permanent arrangement, entitling a child to
approved foster family.                       all of the benefits and rights of a biological
                                              child within the adoptive family.

   • The care provider receives a
     monthly reimbursement based on              • After finalization of the adoption,
     the child’s age and any difficulty of          the kinship care provider has full
     care needs.                                   decision-making authority over
                                                   the child. The child’s birth parents
   • The local department of social
                                                   cannot petition the court for the
     services helps obtain specialized
                                                   purpose of custody or visitation with
     services and support, such as
                                                   the child.
     Medicaid eligibility, therapeutic
     services, etc.                              • When the child has been in foster
                                                   care, the adoptive family may be
   • Health care professionals assist in
                                                   eligible to receive financial adoption
     ensuring that the child’s medical,
                                                   assistance to support the individual
     dental and mental health care needs
                                                   needs of the child.
     are met.
                                                 • After termination of parent rights, a
   • Children in the custody of the local
                                                   biological parent who may have been
     department of social services may
                                                   ordered to pay child support will no
     qualify for additional educational
                                                   longer have this obligation.
     and therapeutic support.
                                                 • The adoptive parents can access
                                                   services and support that may
                                                   be needed by the family such as
                                                   counseling and crisis intervention.
How Do I Decide                                  • Can I commit the time and energy
                                                   toward the goal for this child to have

If Kinship Care Is                                 a permanent home?
                                                 • Will I need financial assistance?
Right For Me?                                    • Will I need assistance to meet the
                                                   medical, dental or emotional health
To determine how to be involved, first              needs of this child?
understand the needs of the child and
assess your own abilities. Questions to ask
yourself:
                                               What Should I Know
     • What is my relationship with the
       child’s parents/guardians?              About the Child
     • Will I have my family’s support?
                                               Welfare System?
     • How will this impact my own
       children and spouse?                     • A biological parent who has not
     • Do I understand the                        harmed the child will have preferential
       circumstances surrounding this             consideration for having the child
       child’s removal from the parents?          placed with him or her.
     • How do I feel about those                • Placement of a child during a protective
       circumstances?                             services investigation (usually the first
                                                  1-30 days) does not guarantee that the
     • How will this affect my
                                                  child will remain with the relative if
       relationship with the child’s
                                                  another living arrangement is in the
       parents and extended families?
                                                  child’s best interests.
     • Will I be able to set limits with the
                                                • Relatives who come forward as a
       parents?
                                                  resource to the child will be considered
     • Will I be able to let this child go        as preferred potential care providers.
       back home when the time comes?
                                                • A home study will be completed for
     • Will I be able to offer this child a       these relatives.
       permanent home if necessary?
• The home will need to pass a safety
  inspection.
                                               How Can I Become
• A background check is required for           An Approved
  any person in the household 18 years
  or older.                                    Kinship Care Foster
• The Juvenile and Domestic Relations
  Court judge will be made aware that
                                               Parent?
  placement with a relative is an option.          • Apply to become a foster parent at the
                                                     local department of social services.
• Most children return to their
  parents’ care within 12 months if                • Work with a social worker to complete
  circumstances which caused the                     a home study assessment that
  child to be removed have improved.                 provides an in-depth opportunity for
                                                     the social worker and you to decide
• A permanent living arrangement will
                                                     if becoming a foster parent is right
  be made for a child whose parent
                                                     for you.
  is unable or unwilling to make the
  changes.                                         • Consent to a criminal background
                                                     check and a child abuse/neglect
• A kinship care provider may be asked
                                                     record check.
  to consider permanent custody or
  adoption of the child.                           • Complete the local department of
                                                     social services required training for
                                                     foster parents.




For more information about kinship care,       www.famis.org
dial 211 toll-free or visit these Web sites:   (Family Access to Medical Insurance Security Plan)
www.211virginia.org                            www.dmas.virginia.gov/rcp-home.htm
(Talk to a real person. Dial 211.)             (Department of Medical Assistance)
www.vda.virginia.gov                           www.dss.virginia.gov
(Virginia Department for the Aging)            (Virginia Department of Social Services)
www.giclocalsupport.org– American              www.gu.org (Generations United)
Association of Retired Persons (AARP)
                                  Developed by the
                       Virginia Department of Social Services
                      Foster Care, Family Preservation Program
                                7 North Eighth Street
                           Richmond, Virginia 23219-1849

                                        www.dss.virginia.gov

                   Thanks for the help and resources that were
                  shared to develop this brochure specifically for
                              kinship care providers.




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                     poverty, abuse and neglect to shape
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                             families and communities.”




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