A Closer Examination of Family Group Decision Making in
have had a prior relationship.”97 While states differ on their
definitions of what qualifies as “kin,” kinship care is traditionally
described as either “formal” or “informal,” depending on whether the
caregiving arrangements occurred with the involvement of a child
In the past, most kin who acted as foster parents received
financial assistance through the welfare system, which was
considerably less than foster care payments.99 It was not until 1979
that the Supreme Court determined kin could be included in the
definition of foster parents, and under some conditions, may be
eligible for foster care benefits.100 Nevertheless, states are free to
deny board rate to kinship foster care parents when federal monies
are not involved.101 Furthermore, there is often a discrepancy in state
policies and practices regarding the qualification and monitoring of
Over time, child welfare professionals have witnessed a rapid
increase in the number of children placed in kinship care.103 The
primary incentive for this growth was the persistent shortage of foster
care homes, in addition to a push in federal policy to treat kin as
appropriate caregivers.104 In 1980, Congress passed the Federal Child
97 Rob Geen, The Evolution of Kinship Care Policy and Practice, THE FUTURE OF
CHILD.: CHILD., FAMILIES, & FOSTER CARE, Winter 2004, at 131, 132 (defining
kinship care to include any familial bond, whether by blood, marriage, or prior
history with the family).
98 Id. at 132-33.
99 Id. at 137.
100 Miller v. Youakim, 440 U.S. 125, 145-46 (1979).
101 Hegar & Scannapieco, Grandma’s Babies, supra note 96, at 164. The Federal
Government provides funds to states to administer child welfare programs. State
grant programs have their own matching requirements and allocations, and all
require that funds go to and be administered by state child welfare agencies. Foster
Care Funding and Federal Programs, FINDLAW, http://family.findlaw.com/foster-care/ foster-care-funding-and-federal-programs.html (last visited Apr. 17, 2013).
102 Marc A. Winokur et al., Matched Comparison of Children in Kinship Care and
Foster Care on Child Welfare Outcomes, 89 FAMILIES IN SOC’Y: J. CONTEMP. SOC.
SERVICES 338, 339 (2008).
103 Id. at 338.