V. LEGISLATIVE POLICY SUPPORTING KINSHIP FAMILIES
After understanding all the needs of kinship caregivers, it is important to shift focus to
policies that influence how supports and services are provided to kinship caregivers, so a
framework can be developed to appropriately align policy with need. In the United States, federal
policy has a strong influence on local and state services and protections for children in the child
welfare system. 109 The influence comes through cost-sharing initiatives whereby the federal
government agrees to provide financial assistance to states that agree to participate in the structure
of assistance programs delineated by the federal policy. 110 Therefore, this paper will first provide
an analysis of federal policy and then will highlight how one state, California, has implemented
federal policy through state policies.
A. Federal Policy Supporting Kinship Families
Several discrete federal policies come together to form the overarching federal support of
kinship caregivers. The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) requires that, as a
condition for receiving federal funding, states must first consider relatives over non-relatives when
making child welfare placement decisions. 111 This legislation clearly indicates the preference for
kinship placement when children are removed from their parents’ care. However, a preference for
placement is not enough. How will we find those relatives to take in children? How will kinship
families be supported in a way that makes this preference become a reality?
Through the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008,
Family Connections Grants were established. 112 Among other things, Family Connection Grants
provide for Kinship Navigator and family finding programs. 113 Family finding programs assist
with locating biological family members who could potentially serve as permanent placements for
children removed from their parents’ care. 114 Kinship Navigator programs are grant-funded, so
states and local agencies need to apply for the grants in order to receive funding and develop
needed programs.115 A limited number of states received these grants in 2009 and 2010.116 Kinship
Navigator programs assist relative caregivers with access to information and provide support and
assistance for kinship caregivers. 117 Services may include links to local county resources,
connections to needed referrals, and a forum to answer questions regarding kinship caregiving. 118
However, raising children can be quite costly and simple connections to supportive services may
not be enough. There are a few federal programs that enable kinship families to receive direct
financial support. These programs are the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
109 See infra Section V(A).
110 See infra Section V(A).
111 42 U.S.C. § 5106 (a)( 4) (2018).
112 Fostering Connection to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008, 110 P.L. 351, 122 Stat. 3949, 110 P.L.
351, 2008 Enacted H.R. 6893, 110 Enacted H.R. 6893, Section 102.
113 42 U.S.C. §§ 627 (a)( 1)-( 2) (2018).
115 42 U.S.C. § 627(b) (2018).
116 Ana Beltran, Kinship Navigator Programs - Summary & Analysis, GRANDFAMILIES.ORG,
http://www.grandfamilies.org/Topics/Kinship-Navigator-Programs/Kinship-Navigator-Programs-Summary-Analysis (last visited Feb. 15, 2018).
117 42 U.S.C. § 627(a)( 1) (2018).