A Closer Examination of Family Group Decision Making in
based on a lower standard.113 In other cases, kinship foster parents
are not mentally or physically prepared for their new roles, and view
their expanding familial responsibilities as a burden.114
The debate surrounding kinship care policies is controversial
and complex, particularly related to whether these family members
should receive equal services, resources, and support, as compared to
their non-kin counterparts.115 Additionally, there is some concern that
the emotional ties between kin caregivers and birth parents can
complicate efforts to meet the needs of these children.116 Tensions
between families could interfere in a child developing a healthy bond
with a foster parent, while families that are too close may fail to
adequately supervise or protect the child.117 Thus, even if there is a
preference for family members when placing a child in out-of-home
care, kinship care in the U.S. has come to be seen as a compulsory
responsibility of the extended family.118
A common theme supported by past literature suggests that
“the nuclear family is idealized in American culture,” as many people
113 Id. at 137-38. The federal legislation requires the same standards for licensure in
order for the state to receive federal monies, so when a state chooses to waive some
of the stringency in licensure for kin care, they are waiving financial support as
well. Id.; see also Scannapieco & Hegar, Kinship Care Providers, supra note 85, at
321 (explaining that if a kinship “family is not licensed, but the child is eligible for
federal welfare assistance, they may receive limited assistance under The Personal
Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWOR) . . .
[but] states have considerable latitude in how to implement . . . [this Act], so
relatives raising children are not eligible for the same financial help in all states”
114 Geen, supra note 97, at 136.
115 See, e.g., Winokur et al., supra note 102, at 339 (discussing the “controversial
issues” of kinship care).
116 Geen, supra note 97, at 144.
118 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, Pub.
L. No. 104-193, 110 Stat. 2105; see also Ronald C. Hughes et al., Issues in
Differential Response, RES. ON SOC. WORK PRAC. (forthcoming) (manuscript at 2)
(on file with author) (noting that even when community-based, family-centered
care practices are preferred, they are not always systematically or effectively
implemented by child welfare organizations).