Policies on Prioritizing Kinship Placements & Other Family Connections

Prioritizing Kinship Placements & Other Family Connections  graphic

District of Columbia Expedited Placement Policy

In 2012, the DC Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) launched the KinFirst strategy to engage and support birth and kinship families. Child protection workers begin engaging parents to identify relatives as potential caregivers while CFSA investigates a concern and arranges a Family Team Meeting. The Kinship Licensing Unit is immediately notified to contact relatives, while the Diligent Search Unit reviews databases to find other relatives. All removal notices must include a list of identified relatives, with comments explaining why they could not be immediate placement resources. When a willing relative is found, CFSA’s goal is to complete the expedited licensing process in four to six hours.

See playbook for more information.

Strategies to Support First Placement in Family Settings

Washington, D.C. has reduced reliance on congregate care by 75 percent between 2005 and 2015.  This brief features key strategies used in Washington, DC in support of family-based care including: a kin unit dedicated to identifying and engaging relative caregivers; a foster parent support unit; a border agreement with Maryland to allow relatives to be licensed across state lines for emergency placement; and a policy that requires the deputy director to approve when a child is placed in a group care setting.

To learn more, see the brief, "How can we ensure a child’s first placement is with family?"

Florida Kinship Navigator Program (Children's Home Network)

Children’s Home Network (CHN) program serves both “informal” kinship arrangements with no child welfare involvement and “formal” kinship families with children placed by a court. The program includes peer navigators equipped with laptop computers who provide in-home assistance with applying for benefits and services. The program also features interdisciplinary teams of professionals available to consult with navigators, assist with service delivery and help solve complex problems. Services include an array of standardized assessments, case management, educational workshops, support groups, legal services, respite care, and counseling.

See the playbook for more information.

Safety Resource Policy

Georgia utilizes different strategies to promote family-based care, including a Safety Resource policy that allows parents to voluntarily place a child with a relative for 45 days as parents work to resolve any safety concerns. These planned placements can also extend across state lines. 

To learn more, see the brief, "How can we ensure a child’s first placement is with family?"

Pre-Removal Conferences

Iowa has reduced the overall population of children in congregate care by 46 percent, from 29 percent (1,972 children) in 2005 to 18 percent (1,068 children) in 2015. Strategies used to promote family-based care include Iowa’s Pre-Removal Conference, which is a model for meeting with the family prior to removing a child, with the goal of including the family in the removal process. This strengths-based meeting keeps the focus on reducing trauma for the child and is shown to increase relative placements and educational stability. In the event that a relative placement is not available, these meetings still provide parents with a chance to be involved in decision-making, and provides the child protection agency with as much information as possible to identify a foster home that can best meet the child’s needs. In Polk County, an income maintenance worker attends the Pre-Removal Conference to ensure the identified relative caregiver is connected to all eligible benefits before the meeting ends. The family also leaves the meeting with a visitation plan in place so that both the parents and the child know when they will see each other again. This level of engagement and communication has improved the agency’s relationship with the community in general, and has also been embraced by staff, county attorneys, and the judiciary.

To learn more, see the brief, "How can we ensure a child’s first placement is with family?"

Foster Parent & Kinship Support Programs

In Kentucky, the Foster Parent Mentor Program is a partnership with the University Training Consortium and Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) that matches newly approved foster parents with experienced caregivers for their first six months of service. The Foster and Adoptive Parent Training Support Network run by Murray State University has 15 teams of experienced foster parents who provide peer support and training. The state agency also partners with the University of Kentucky to operate the Kinship Information, Navigation and Support (KY-KINS) program.

See Kentucky's diligent recruitment plan for more information.

Nebraska Statute on Removal of Licensing Barriers

In 2013, Nebraska enacted a statute that calls for new foster family licensing requirements that ensure children’s safety but minimize use of licensing mandates for non-safety issues. The statute requires that licensing rules provide alternatives for non-safety issues regarding housing. The legislation also requires the department to provide assistance to families in overcoming licensing barriers, especially in child-specific relative and kinship placements.

See the playbook for more information.