Technical Assistance Q&A: Ways we help government systems and nonprofits with individual requests
Here are some recent questions from the field that our technical assistance team has addressed. If you are a nonprofit or government professional needing help to improve services and supports for kinship/grandfamilies, please complete our request form.
What steps do states need to take to implement the final rule allowing for kin-specific approval or licensing standards?
Response: The steps states need to take to implement the new final rule will vary depending on whether the state’s licensing standards are found in state statute, regulation, or policy. In some states, the legislature may need to become involved, but others may be able to implement new standards without legislative action. All states, territories, and Tribes operating a Title IV-E agency that want to implement the final rule must amend their Title IV-E Plan according to the instructions linked here. Attachment A contains the template to follow, and Attachment B has a list of Administration for Children and Families Regional Offices to consult for guidance on completing Attachment A.
While implementing kin-specific standards is optional, each Title IV-E agency must review the amount of foster care maintenance payments (FCMPs) to assure that the agency provides a licensed or approved relative or kinship foster family home the same amount of FCMPs that would have been provided if the child was placed in a non-related/non-kinship foster family home. Each Title IV-E agency must submit an amendment to the Title IV-E plan implementing such procedures by February 8, 2024.
To learn more about the new rule, see the Network’s new resource and watch the recording of our webinar, “Kin-Specific Foster Home Licensure: Overview of New Federal Rule & Release of Recommended Standards.” Also, do not hesitate to use our form to reach out with any additional questions.
My organization is developing a new program to serve kin caregivers. What strategies would you recommend for reaching the families?
Response: Outreach to kinship/grandfamilies can be challenging because some do not recognize or relate to these terms used by professionals. When creating flyers and ads, try using language like, “Are you raising a child of a relative or friend?”
Connecting and partnering with other agencies and organizations is key for targeted outreach. If you’re not already working with these agencies/organizations, here are a few we would recommend starting with: Courts, Local TANF/SNAP offices, schools, Area Agencies on Aging, Family Resource Centers, 2-1-1 directories, food pantries, and community- and faith-based organizations. A recent Network webinar may provide some insight on which organizations to partner with and how to make those partnerships work: Identifying and Engaging Untapped Partners to Support Kinship Families
My organization would like to learn more about evidence-based practices for serving kin caregivers. Where should we start?
Response: The Network’s recent webinar, “Building Evidence of Success for Kinship Programs: Tips and Strategies,” discussed general principles and tips for kinship programs across the country, small or large, that want to build evidence of success. A list of Evaluation Resources for Kinship Programs was also developed to accompany the webinar.
It may also be helpful to learn about service models that have already been evaluated and proven to be evidence-based. There are currently four states with a kinship navigator program meeting the evidence-based standards of the Title IV-E Prevention Services Clearinghouse- Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, and Ohio. Learn more about these programs by visiting Kinship Navigator Programs Around the United States.
I serve kinship families with school-related concerns. They often face barriers with enrollment and signing paperwork. What can I do to help kin caregivers in the education system?
Response: The challenges kin caregivers encounter in the education system may vary based on factors like the state in which they live and the caregiver’s relationship to the child. In many states, professionals working with kin caregivers utilize the federal McKinney Vento Act to help “unaccompanied” children who are not in foster care and are being raised by kin caregivers who lack a legal relationship to a child. Through that Act, children and caregivers can overcome some of the barriers they face, such as school enrollment and transportation. Gaining the authority to sign school-related paperwork, such as Individualized Education Plans, may be more difficult to accomplish. In these circumstances, establishing a legal relationship to the child would be helpful. Last year, the Network held regional kinship convenings and learned how Washington uses McKinney Vento to support kinship families. Our two-page tip sheet, “Supporting Educational Access for Kinship/Grandfamilies,” also provides information and links to additional guidance.
I’m the founder of a nonprofit providing support and assistance to kinship/grandfamilies. I’m looking for tools and resources when assistance is needed in accessing benefits like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Do you have information or guidance that we can share with families we serve?
Response: On our website, you can find GrandFacts fact sheets for each state, DC, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Each fact sheet is full of important information and organizations that serve grandparents and other relative caregivers. Thanks to the National Indian Child Welfare Association, two Tribal GrandFacts fact sheets are coming this Spring.
In November 2022, the Network hosted a webinar on Legal Relationships and Public Benefits. In this webinar, Ana Beltran, the director of the Network, and Heidi Redlich Epstein, Network subject matter expert and director of Kinship Policy and State Projects at the American Bar Association Center on Children and the Law, discussed general information about TANF and other benefits and shared a template that states can use to create a chart comparing TANF benefits for families involved in child welfare versus those who are not involved. Lastly, check out the SNAP fact sheet and other resources on the Network website
My state is looking to end the practice of referring parents to child support when a child is living with a relative and the relative caregiver wants to seek Temporary Assistance for Needy Families child-only financial support. Are there any states already doing this?
Response: Massachusetts grants good cause exemptions for assigning child support to the state to all kin caregivers applying for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) child-only grants when the caregiver deems that pursuing child support is not in the best interest of the child. Review their state policy guidance for staff and the public. Learn more about the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance’s good cause exemptions and how they support kinship caregivers. Massachusetts leaders reviewed guidance from the following three sources to create their reform: a federal report called the “Section 8-Child Support Enforcement Program“, the Penalty Performance Measures and Levels section of Part 305 of the U.S. Code, and a report entitled “Child Support Cooperation Requirements and Public Benefits Programs: An Overview of Issues and Recommendations for Change. Massachusetts also has an outreach flyer that may be useful examples for other jurisdictions.
Q: How can my state collect data to be more informed on the prevalence of youth in kinship families?
Response: Utilize the CDC Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) to collect vital information about the health and well-being of youth in kinship care and foster care. By including questions in this survey about the youth’s living arrangement, and whether they are living with kin or in foster care, each state will have data specific to these populations. Washington State has successfully added these questions to its survey and has gathered useful information to inform supports and services. It is an easy lift for any state to replicate.
Q: My organization is interested in developing respite services. Where should we begin?
Response: A visit to the ARCH Respite website can provide resources of interest (some resources may need to be adapted to services for kinship/grandfamilies). Download the ARCH National Respite Guidelines free of charge, to provide some assistance in developing a high-quality respite service. You might also find the ARCH Respite Fact Sheets, which focus on the respite needs of specific populations, helpful as you consider the type of service you are planning to provide.