Kinship Foster Care

Kinship foster care is foster care given by a grandparent or another relative of a child who has been removed from the home of the parent, and who has now been placed in the custody of the State.

Who can become kinship forster parents?
The following relatives can become kinship foster parents: grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, cousins and great aunts, and their husbands and wives.

Do kinship foster parents have legal custody of the child?
No. A kinship foster care parent has temporary physical custody. Legal custody of that child is with the state or the agency acting for the state. This means that the kinship foster care parent takes care of the child's daily needs but cannot make any major decisions regarding the child without first obtaining the consent of the agency that acts for the state.

Is the child always placed with relatives?
New York State law requires that the Child Welfare Agency first look for appropriate relatives who are willing to become foster parents or who are willing to provide free care to the child. If a grandparent agrees to become the foster parent, the grandparent has to be able to take appropriate care of that child, and must meet all other requirements. The Child Welfare Agency must tell the relatives who want to take care of children that they have two options:

  • they either may take care of the children without help from the agency and without further interference or supervision of the agency
  • they may become a foster parent, which means that they will be supervised by the agency and may apply for foster care payments to assist with the care of the grandchildren

What requirements must grandparents meet if they decide they want to be kinship foster parents?
In order to be approved as a kinship foster care parent, you have to agree to a background check and you must be a relative of the child. In addition, you should meet the following criteria:

  • be over the age of 21, in good physical and mental health, free from communicable diseases
  • can be employed as long as arrangements are made to have the child supervised at all times
  • can be single or married as long as the person's marital status does not affect the person's ability to give adequate care to the child
  • keep your house in a good condition and not a hazard to the children's health or safety
  • have sufficient sleeping arrangements and space
  • never leave children under the age of 10 alone without competent supervision
  • give the child good quality food
  • keep the children's clothes, whether provided by the foster parent, the agency, or the child's parents, in proper condition
  • provide proper toilet articles for the children in their care
  • recognize and respect the religious wishes of the parents
  • cooperate with the agency and report any incident which affects the child's well-being
  • allow a representative from the child welfare agency to enter your home to investigate any formal complaint about the care of the child
  • inform the Child Welfare Agency of any changes in the household (when someone moves in or out or when you get married or divorced)
  • agree to cooperate and assist with visits between brothers and sisters who have been placed apart
  • arrange for school age children to attend school regularly
  • cooperate with the agency regarding the services and discharge plan
  • provide information about whether you have ever been convicted of a crime (a check will be made of any criminal history)
  • get fingerprinted (any people who are over 18 and live with you must also be fingerprinted)

Is kinship foster care permanent?
No. Kinship foster care may be for a temporary or long-term period, but it is not permanent. Like regular foster care, the goal is to find a permanent safe and healthy home for the child. The Child Welfare Agency will first try to reunite the parents with the children but if this is not possible, then the agency must have another plan for the child. The plan may include adoption, guardianship or another permanent living arrangement for the child.
As a kinship foster parent, you may have to decide whether you are going to adopt your grandchildren, become their guardian or whether you are going to allow another adoptive family to be found.

Can I receive payment for taking care of my grandchild who is with me in foster care?
Yes. You or another relative may be able to get kinship foster care payments to assist with the care of your grandchild if your grandchild is placed in foster care with you.

What items do kinship foster payments cover?
Kinship foster care payments include money for food, clothing, shelter, daily supervision, school supplies, a child's personal needs, and liability insurance for the child. The child is also eligible for supportive services such as counseling. Payments are made for each individual child in the care of the foster parent.

How much will I receive in kinship foster care payments?
The amounts of the payments differ from county to county and depend on the age of the child, where the child lives, and whether the child has any special needs.

Do unrelated foster parents get more financial assistance than their kinship foster parents?
No. In New York State, foster parents, whether related or not, receive the same payments depending on the number of children, the children's ages, where the children live, and whether the children have any special needs.

Why don't some grandparents get kinship foster care payments?
Sometimes grandparents or other relatives are not informed that they may be eligible for payments to help with the care of the children in foster care. And some Grandparents prefer to not have to work with the Child Welfare Agency.

Why do some grandparents prefer to do without foster care payments?
Grandparents who are the foster parents of their grandchildren have certain duties and responsibilities. Some grandparents choose not to receive kinship foster care payments for some or all of these reasons:

  • the home of a kinship foster parent is supervised by the agency acting for the state
  • kinship foster parents cannot make major decisions regarding the lives of the grandchildren in their care without the approval of the agency
  • the child can be removed from the grandparent's home by the child welfare agency, if the agency decides that is in the best interest of the child
  • kinship foster care is temporary and the agency will make every effort to find a permanent home for the child by trying to reunite the child with the parents, or if that fails, to find a permanent adoptive home for the child
  • if the grandparent does not wish to adopt the grandchild, the grandparent risks losing the child to another foster family who is willing to adopt the child

As a kinship foster parent what rights do I have if the parent wants the child back?
As a foster parent, you agree to take care of children for a temporary period. The Child Welfare Agency, who has legal custody of the child, has to find the child a permanent and safe home. The agency has the right to remove that child from your care, with notice, at any time. If the parent is seeking custody of the child and is working on becoming a fit parent, the Child Welfare Agency will try to reunite the child and parent together again. However, if your grandchild has been with you in foster care for one year or more, you have the right to participate in any hearing regarding your grandchild's custody.