A Kinship Care Program in Federal Child Welfare Funding
The Imprint is highlighting each of the policy recommendations made this summer by the participants of the Foster Youth Internship Program, a group of 12 former foster youth who have completed congressional internships.
The annual program is overseen by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that raises awareness about the needs of children without families. Each of the participants crafted a policy recommendation during their time in Washington, D.C.
Today we highlight the recommendation from Glenda Wright, a recent graduate of the Salmon P. Chase College of Law.
Wright calls for an amendment to the Title IV-E program that would add kinship care as a third required portion of state plans, distinguishing it as a separate entity from foster care or adoption. Under Wright’s plan, this would include kin who take kids in through a diversionary process, as opposed to an official removal into foster care that occurs with court approval.
Wright would also have Congress require states to collect data on kinship programs, “specifically looking at the efficacy and benefits of voluntary supported diversion kinship care.”
While the actual frequency with which kinship diversion occurs is unknown, Wright cites research suggesting that hundreds of thousands of children may experience it each year. But “the government provides kinship caregivers less than it provides strangers who care for children involved in traditional foster care,” she writes.
A “supported kinship care diversion” approach, she argues, would include proper risk assessments to ensure youth safety, full disclosure of benefits and options for caregivers, and meaningful services for both kin caregivers and birth parents.
In Their Own Words
“My grandmother’s efforts to meet all my needs never went unnoticed. However, neither did the fact that she struggled to meet her caregiving duties with access to limited resources.
“That point was never more evident than when my grandmother sat us down to ask if we thought it would be best if she surrendered us to state care. Many people wonder why my grandmother would be willing to ‘give up’ her caregiver role. The simple answer is this: she did not have the necessary support or services to meet the full range of our needs.”