Kinship Caregiver Support Options
WHAT IS KINSHIP FOSTER CARE?
Sometimes a child cannot live safely with their parents. Relatives or friends of the family may then provide care in their home. This is known as kinship care.
Kinship foster care is foster care given by a relative by blood marriage or adoption, or any person with close family ties who can provide full-time nurturing and support of children who must be separated from their parents.
These children have been removed from their parent’s home and have been placed in the custody of Suffolk County.
WHY BECOME A KINSHIP FOSTER PARENT?
Becoming a kinship foster parent opens up a variety of supports to the youth and the kinship caregiver.
As a Kinship foster parent, you are part of a “team” working together for the sake of the family. The team consists of you the caregiver, the birth parent, the caseworker for Suffolk County and their administrative team, the child’s lawyer, the family court judge and other supportive programs the child is linked to through the foster care system.
Support Services include family services, case management, supervised visitation assistance, support groups, respite opportunities, advocacy, independent living skills for older children, and educational and medical assistance for the child.
Financial services include monthly board rate, clothing and diaper allowance, daycare and summer camp reimbursements, school and youth development (school pictures, sports, music, dance, field trip, and prom, etc.), WIC for children under 5 years old, medical insurance, and free school lunches.
WHO CAN BECOME KINSHIP FOSTER CARE PARENTS?
The term “kinship” is a family court term that means any relative by blood, marriage, adoption or any person who the child considers family.
- In order to be a foster parent for the child living in your care, there are requirements that you must meet in order to be certified and approved in Suffolk County.
- Required to be over the age of 21.
- All members 18 and older living in the household must complete a background check and finger printing.
- A medical examination.
- Provide proof of income, temporary assistance, and/or social security.
- Attend foster parent training.
- Provide a safe and suitable home.
- Agree to cooperate with Suffolk County DSS and allow representatives to enter the home for visits.
- Children placed in kinship foster homes are subject to standards set by New York State law and regulations. (http://www.ocfs.state.ny.us/main/publications/foster_parent_handbook.pdf)
DO KINSHIP FOSTER PARENTS HAVE LEGAL CUSTODY?
No. A kinship foster parent has temporary physical custody.
Legal custody of that child is with Suffolk County. Physical custody means that the kinship foster parent takes care of the child’s daily needs but cannot make any decisions regarding the child without first obtaining consent from Suffolk County.
IS KINSHIP FOSTER CARE PERMANENT?
No. Kinship foster care may be temporary or long-term, but not permanent.
The goal is to find permanency for the child to ensure stability. Suffolk County DSS will first try to reunite the parents with the children, but if not possible another plan for the child will be made. Other plans include adoption, guardianship, KinGap, or another permanent living arrangement for the child.
As a kinship foster parent, you may have to decide whether you are going to adopt the child, become their guardian, or whether you are going to allow another adoptive family to be found.
WHAT DOES ARTICLE 10/ “N-DOCKET”/ DIRECT PLACEMENT MEAN?
No foster care support or stipend but most of the same responsibilities
Removal ordered by a judge (Article 10, Temporary Custody). Court retains jurisdiction over custodial arrangements of the child. Suffolk County DSS still has care and control of the child. Courts and Suffolk County DSS continue efforts to support the parent. Parents can get their child back at any time.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DIRECT PLACEMENT AND KINSHIP FOSTER CARE?
Kinship foster parents must complete foster care certification. Kinship foster parents risk the chance of child replacement. Direct Placement is when the caregiver has temporary physical and legal custody but still must attend family court.
|Legal Arrangements||Procedure||Authority||Security & Stability||Financial||Kinship Resources|
|Direct Custody||County and Suffolk County control process||Legal custody may be retained by Suffolk County, but the caregiver has physical custody: Suffolk Count/ Caregiver Agreement||Limited protection: parent can regain custody at any time||No foster care payments, but eligible for non-parent “Child Only” grant||Kinship Navigator. www.nysnavigator.org|
|Kinship Foster Care||Agreement with county, then caregiver provides physical custody||Suffolk County has legal custody and care of the child. Foster parent has physical custody.||Court ordered protection||Subsidy Agreement: foster care monthly stipend and other supports||Suffolk County DSS case management team and the Permanency Resource Center.|
WHAT DO THE KINSHIP FOSTER PARENT PAYMENTS COVER?
The amounts of the payments differ depending on the age of the child, where the child lives, and whether the child has any special needs.
Kinship foster care payments include money for food, clothing, shelter, daily supervision, school supplies, a child’s personal needs, and liability insurance. The child is also eligible for supportive services such as counseling. Payments are made for each individual child in care.
WHAT RIGHTS DO KINSHIP FOSTER PARENTS HAVE IF THE PARENT WANTS THE CHILD BACK?
As a foster parent, kinship care giver agrees to take care of children for a temporary period. Return of the child to the parent is dependent upon a court order.
Suffolk County DSS, who has legal custody, has to find the child permanency. If the parent is seeking custody of the child and is working to become a fit parent, Suffolk County DSS will work on reuniting the child and parent.
WHY DO SOME KINSHIP CAREGIVERS PREFER TO NOT OPT INTO KINSHIP FOSTER CARE?
The home of the kinship foster parent must be supervised by Suffolk County DSS.
Kinship foster parents cannot make major decisions regarding the child without approval. The child can be removed from the kinship foster parent’s home by Suffolk County DSS, if they decide it is in the best interest of the child at any time.
Kinship foster care is temporary and Suffolk County DSS will make every effort to find a permanent home for the child by trying to reunite the child with the parent, if that fails, they will find a permanent adoptive home for the child. If the kinship foster parent does not wish to adopt the child, the child may be placed with another foster family willing to adopt.
WHAT IS THE KINSHIP GUARDIANSHIP ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (KINGAP)?
It is a permanent commitment to be responsible and support the child until adult hood.
KinGAP is designed for kinship foster children to achieve permanency with a relative who had been the child’s foster parent for at least 6 months. Kin GAP provides financial support, like maintenance payments.
KinGAP has eligibility requirements in order to receive payments. KinGAP is an alternative way to gain permanency unlike adoption, KinGAP does not require termination of parental rights.
Any other questions? Contact….
Tina Marie Basile