Fostering Connections Resource Center

Subsidized guardianship (Sec. 101)

The Act gives states the option of obtaining federal reimbursement for ongoing assistance payments made on behalf of children who exit foster care to guardianship with a relative.  To be eligible, a child must reside with the prospective relative for at least six consecutive months and be eligible for IV-E payments while in the relative's home.  In addition, a child is eligible only if "being returned home or adopted are not appropriate permanency options for the child."  According to the Act, the amount of a kinship guardianship assistance payment "shall not exceed the foster care payment which would have been paid on behalf of the child if the child remained in a foster family home."  Beyond eligibility requirements for guardianship subsidies, the Act also includes case plan requirements that require states to document "the steps that the agency has taken to determine that it is not appropriate for the child to be returned home or adopted" and "the efforts the agency has made to discuss adoption by the child's relative foster parent as a more permanent alternative to legal guardianship."  The Act also stipulates that any youth age 14 or older be consulted before being placed in the kinship guardianship arrangement.  Children receiving federal kinship guardianship assistance are categorically eligible for Medicaid coverage.

This section of the Act also permits states to place a sibling(s) of an eligible child in the same kinship guardianship arrangement and to make guardianship assistance payments on behalf of those siblings.

Notice of placement to relatives (Sec. 103)

The Act requires requires states "within 30 days after the removal of a child from the custody of the parent" to "exercise due diligence to identify and provide notice to all adult grandparents and other adult relatives of the child."  Moreover, the state must inform relatives of their options "to participate in the care and placement of the child" including the requirements "to become a foster family home and the additional services and supports that are available for children placed in such a home."  The act also allows child welfare agencies to obtain state and federal child support data to help locate children's parents and other relatives.

Foster care licensing standards (Sec. 104)

The Act codifies existing HHS regulations that states may waive non-safety-related foster care licensing standards on a case-by-case basis for kin seeking to become foster parents, and may seek Title IV-E reimbursement for eligible children placed with such kin. The Act specifically states that the "non-safety standards" are "as determined by the state." It is important to note that neither this Act nor any previous legislation or regulation prohibits states from using unlicensed kin to care for children in state custody. However, states using unlicensed kin may not seek federal reimbursement under Title IV-E for children placed in such care.

This section of the Act also requires HHS to submit a report to Congress within two years of enactment on states' licensing of relative foster homes.  The report will cover, 1) the number and percentage of children living in licensed relative homes; 2) frequency of state use of waivers of "non-safety" standards and the type of non-safety standards waived; 3) assessment of how the use of such waivers have affected safety, permanence, and well-being outcomes for children in foster care; 4) reasons why relative foster homes may remain unlicensed; and 5) recommendations for administrative or legislative actions to increase the share of relative foster family homes that are licensed while ensuring the safety, permanency and well-being of the children.

Placement with siblings (Sec 206)

The Act requires states to make "reasonable place siblings removed from their home in the same foster care, kinship guardianship, or adoptive placement...and in the case of siblings removed from their home who are not jointly placed, to provide frequent visitation or other ongoing interaction between the siblings."

Family connection grants (Sec 102)

The Act authorizes grants to states, Tribes, and nonprofit organizations to implement programs designed to help children who are in, or at risk of entering foster care to reconnect with family members.  The Act authorizes $75 million over 5 years for the implementation of four specific program models: kinship navigator programs, intensive family finding, family group decision making, and residential family treatment. Three percent of the funds authorized are set aside for conducting a rigorous evaluation of the programs funded.