116 Children’s Legal Rights Journal [Vol. 39: 1 2019]
block grant, 119 Title IV-E of the Social Security Act (Title IV-E) foster care maintenance
payments, 120 and Title IV-E Guardianship Assistance Program (GAP) stipends. 121 States, however,
need to structure their programs to assure kinship families are receiving this support.
B. Kinship Care in California
Coordinating care for approximately 18% of the nation’s children, California has the
largest population of youth in out-of-home care of any state. 122 This fact alone provides adequate
reason to look to and analyze California’s provision of services to kinship care providers.
California has also developed some promising practices, highlighted below, and has areas where
improvement is recommended by the authors.
Between fiscal year 2005 and fiscal year 2017, California experienced a slight increase in
the percentage of foster youth placed in kinship foster homes in California. 123 According to the
UC Berkeley Center for Social Services Research, of the estimated 60,000 children in foster care
in California on July 1, 2017, 11% were in non-relative foster family homes, 24% were in foster
family agency homes, 34% were in kinship homes, 6% were in group homes, and less than 1%
were in shelters. 124 These placement rates mark only a slight shift in placement types between
fiscal year 2005 and fiscal year 2017. During this time, there was a nearly 1/2% increase in children
placed in kinship homes, which correlated with a nearly 3% decrease of children in institutional or
group home settings. 125 During this same time, there was also more than a 1% decrease of children
placed in non-relative or foster family agency placements. 126
Prior to 2014, there was little effort made in California to treat relatives with financial
equity in comparison to non-relatives caring for children in foster care. From a general policy
standpoint, this inequity was rooted in a belief that relatives should possess a moral responsibility
to care for their kin placed in foster care and, therefore, did not need the same financial
reimbursements as unrelated caretakers. 127
Recognizing that “children should live in their communities in home-based family care
119 42 U.S.C. § 601(2018).
120 42 U.S.C. § 672 (2018).
121 42 U.S.C. § 673 (2018).
122 Mark E. Courtney & Barbara Needell, Outcomes of Kinship Care: Lessons from California, 2 CHILD WELFARE
RES. REV. 130 (1997). See also CHILDREN’S BUREAU (ACYF, ACF), U.S. DEP’T OF HEALTH & HUM. SERVS., CHILD
WELFARE OUTCOMES 2010-2014: REPORT TO CONGRESS, at 5,
123 Diane Webster et al., Number of Children in Foster Care by Type of Placement Chart, UNIV. OF CAL. AT
BERKELEY CHILD WELFARE INDICATORS PROJECT, http://cssr.berkeley.edu/ucb_childwelfare/PIT.aspx (Select
Multiple Time Periods (California, Individual County, or Grouped Counties) – Click Next; Select Table Output in:
Percent; Row Dimension: Placement Type; Point in Time: July; Select Begin Year: 2005 – Click Finish) (last visited
Feb. 5, 2019) (placement rate for children in kinship homes increased just over one percent between 2005 and 2015).
124 Id. (For the number of children in care, select “single time period” and click next; Select Time Period: July 1,
2017; Row Dimension: Placement Type; Column Dimension: Gender; Finish. For percentages, select “single time
period” and click next; Select Time Period: July 1, 2017; Table Output: Percent; Row Dimension: Placement Type;
Column Dimension: Gender; finish.)
127 Iryna Hayduk, The Effect of Kinship Placement on Foster Children’s Well Being, 17 THE B. E. J. OF
ECON. ANALYSIS & POL’Y 1, 2 (Mar. 2014).