Fostering a Relative-Kinship Care


There can be many different reasons that biological parents are not able to care for their child, such as death, abuse, neglect, mental illness, homelessness, alcohol use, drug use, etc. Sometimes children are removed from their homes by a governmental agency, such as Child Protective Services (“CPS”). It is a preference of CPS and the courts that family members be given the opportunity to provide care for a child before the child is sent to foster care. The full-time care, nurturing, and protection of a child by relatives or other adults who have a family relationship to a child is commonly referred to as “kinship care”.

While a party can go through a private attorney to gain custody of a child, most of the time we get involved because CPS has been called and the child has been physically removed from the parent’s home. In this instance, CPS will usually ask the parent to provide a list of family members that would be willing to care for the child. CPS does require that a short home study be completed before a placement is approved by the court and the court may have additional requirements of a party before placement. A home study does consist of a criminal background check, CPS history check and a review of a party’s finances and living arrangements. It is the job of CPS to ensure that the needs of the child can be met. If a person does not qualify for the placement, then CPS will move on to the alternate option. If there are no parties that qualify and no other options for family placement, the child will remain in the custody of the state or be placed in a foster home until further order of the court.

When a child is placed with family, it is likely that they already have a relationship with them, and they are familiar with their environment. There are many benefits for the child, such as having the same family support system, continued relationships with their siblings, a feeling of security and stability, being able to continue family traditions and maintaining the child’s sense of cultural identity. Separating a child from their parent can be extremely traumatic and placing them with family can reduce that trauma.

If you find yourself in a situation wherein you are now having to care for someone else’s child, please take some time to do so research to see what resources are available to you and the child. Taking care of someone’s else’s child full-time can be a challenging and stressful task, but don’t be afraid to ask for help. The Department of Family and Protective Services can offer many resources to help, such as monthly payments, help with medical care, food stamps, help with daycare for the child, etc. You can also request that the court order that the biological parents pay you child and medical support. Seeking these benefits will not have an affect on your ability to provide a loving and caring home for the child, whether it be temporary or permanent.

While CPS can assist with placement, termination of parental rights and adoption sometimes it is best to retain an attorney to assist you with the legal process as CPS does not represent you in any way. You will want to make sure that you know your legal rights to be able to protect yourself and the child. If you are concerned about the safety and welfare of a child, consult with an attorney immediately to know your options as you do not have to seek assistance through CPS.

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