Nearly 3 million American children are cared for by relatives other than their parents.
Child welfare agencies in many states rely on extended families, primarily grandparents, to provide homes for children who cannot safely remain with their parents. In fact, relatives care for 27 percent of children in foster care—about 107,000—according to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System.
Medical consent and school enrollment: Read State Educational and Medical Consent Laws to view the chart of state laws allowing relatives to enroll children in school and to obtain medical care and treatment for children in their care. Read Big Decisions for Little Children, NCSL State Legislatures magazine article.
Relative notification: The Fostering Connections Act of 2008 requires that within 30 days after the child has been removed from parental custody, the state shall exercise due diligence to identify and provide notice to all adult grandparents and other adult relatives of the child. The notice will be sent to any other adult relatives suggested by the parents, subject to exceptions due to domestic violence. Read NCSL Child Welfare Policy Update State Response to the Fostering Connections to Success Act of 2008 Relative Notification Provision to view relative notification enactments.
Subsidized guardianship:The Fostering Connections Act of 2008 also allows states the option to provide kinship guardianship assistance payments on behalf of children to grandparents and other relatives who have assumed legal guardianship of the children and states will be able to use federal title IVE funds for this purpose. In order to receive payments, a state must negotiate and enter into a written binding kinship guardianship assistance agreement with the prospective relative guardian. Read Child Welfare Policy Update State Response to the Fostering Connections to Success Act of 2008 Kinship Guardianship Assistance Provision to view kinship guardianship assistance enactments.
Relative Support: A number of states have enacted legislation to expand support for grandparent and relative caregivers. The chart below reflects legislation enacted between 2012 and 2016. The categories identified include:
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About This NCSL Project
The Denver-based child welfare project staff focuses on state policy, tracking legislation and providing research and policy analysis, consultation, and technical assistance specifically geared to the legislative audience. Denver staff can be reached at (303) 364-7700 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
NCSL staff in Washington, D.C. track and analyze federal legislation and policy and represent state legislatures on child welfare issues before Congress and the Administration. Staff in D.C. can be reached at (202) 624-5400 or email@example.com.