Kinship Families And The Future of Foster Care

kinship families

As the number of kinship families grows, the need for more support services for grandparents raising grandchildren and other relatives taking children into their home increases.

The greatest difference in foster care that I’ve observed from when I started fostering over twenty years ago until today is the focus on placing children with relatives or close family friends (kinship families).

When I began fostering, I cared for many children who would stay for a few months and then leave my home to go to the home of a relative. Almost always that relative was available from day one when the child entered foster care, but at the time they were required to take training and have their home inspection prior to the child being placed with them. Now children are placed immediately in kinship foster care under presumptive eligibility in my home state of New Jersey.

Going forward, I think more children will be placed with kinship families when possible.

I think foster families who are not kinship families will need to be more specialized to meet the needs of children who are not placed with kin. Sometimes this means caring for a larger sibling group, for children with specialized medical needs, and for teens.

Kinship families face many unique challenges, and it is important for grandparents raising grandchildren and other kinship caregivers to be able to access resources to help them meet those challenges with knowledge and moral support.  New Jersey’s foster parent support group meetings are open to all licensed resource parents who live in the state. An online support network is also offered, to accommodate caregivers’ busy schedules. Both options offer kinship caregivers new to child welfare policies and procedures and dealing with the child welfare system, support from experienced foster parents who provide helpful tips and information.

What is it like for kinship families in the state where you live?  What are your greatest challenges? Comment and let us know.

7 thoughts on “Kinship Families And The Future of Foster Care

  1. I started caring for my nephew in 2003 in the state of Colorado. It has been both wonderful and heartbreaking. I’ve started a blog about my experiences, Kinship care is never what you expect. The family dynamics and dealing with the birth parents, who are most likely related to you, can be a struggle. However; I believe children, whenever possible, should be placed with relatives as it gives them a sense of belonging, which is something even grownups seem to need.

  2. My husband and I have two small children of our own. About 4 months ago we received a call from the Dept. of Children and Family Services explaining that our 1 year old nephew had been removed from his mother’s care due to a hazardous living environment (meth pipes within the babies reach, criminals hiding in the closet, etc.), and he was placed in our care. We are muddling our way through this experience, and it has been extremely emotional. The biggest challenge I am finding is that there seems to be so many resources out there for people who were looking to be a foster parent, and for grandparents who weren’t anticipating becoming a caretaker. But, we are a young family who has kind of been thrown into this crazy situation, and I wish I just had some other similar stories or people to connect with. I feel so emotional and scared about the “what if’s.” Dealing with the unexpected negative backlash from some of our family has been extremely emotional and challenging. As time goes on, we become more and more in love and attached. I would really just like to find some better resources that are more aligned to my situation.

    1. Committing to becoming a licensed resource parent can be both challenging and empowering. When working with and advocating for relative care providers, my experience has been that the challenges are based in the balance between committing to your family members wants and needs, while also abiding by the stream of requirements from DCP&P. My suggestion is to contact your FAFS Family Advocate who can provide you with support and listen to your feeling about the process. Many of our FFA have been foster parents in the past, including me! After speaking with your FFA,, we may be able to connect you with other families in a similar situation.

    2. Wow an amazing story I hope you following your answers because as I was going to exact same thing the what ifs is extremely compli

  3. Hi my name is Annette Castro here in Tulare Co.The Health and Human Service Agency in Visalia Ca Detain children from their biological parents and don’t offer them reunification services or place children with relatives there first and for most interest is adoption to strangers and deny relative placement and sibling’s visits as well there are many cases here in Tulare Co. parents have been six to a year or more clean and sober and completed many programs and classes and on there own and it doesn’t matter what change of circumstances have been done these Child Welfare Service Agency’s don’t care their mind is already made up from the begainig and there putting there best interest at hand not the kids just the price tag on these poor kids heads what a sad Government we face and how selfish they have become.

  4. Question….My daughter is going threw a bad situation,and is going in rehab.for drug use.I am the grandmother of all three children ,I have had the oldest (grandson) every since he was born basically.and I let my daughter and her fiance stay with me with the other two grandchildren 3yr old and going on 1yr old grandson.CPS got called on my daughter n fiance because of there drug abuse (which the two youngest grandchildren were with them at the time) the oldest was living with me.My daughter had a case worker to help them do the rite thing and they had random drug screens.well when I allowed my daughter and her fiance to stay with me , because they had no place to go and was supposed to be temporary….my life was normal ,it was me and my son and my grandson and my better half ,and i thought because of my daughter case worker coming to our home and doing check ups that she was doing the rite thing ,my oldest grandson was not in the system because he was in my care .well when I allowed my daughter n fiance to stay with us ,I left them to go work for a month ,(thinking and taking her word that my home is ok and they are doing good) and I thought well she will not be out messing up or her fiance if they have all three kids and which I checked up on her and she would come n visit me while I worked . I am going threw so much heart break and really have a question for anyone to answer for day I get a call….police are at my home (my oldest grandson was in school on this day) my daughter and fiance were fighting (and is one reason I kept my grandson and he is not her fiance’s child he has a different dad) my other two grandchildren are by her fiance.they are very young at this time.anyways on the day I got a call… daughter had flunked her drug screen and the fiance and so my daughter was put in rehabilitation for 6months.and when I went to my home…it was destroyed….I was in tears…heart broken and so my other daughter is keeping my oldest grandson and the other two are in a foster home….now this is the question…are foster parents allowed to cut a child’s hair??!??? And have the children call them mom or dad etc…now both my daughter n fiance are in rehab and go to visitation and this is a open case ,my daughter is doing what she is supposed to do in order to get the children back.and me as a grandma ,I am heart broken and praying that she does everything she is supposed to do.but she is upset …n so am I , because when she went to see the children granddaughters hair was hacked un even and this was her first hair cut and as a mom we all know the first hair cut is special ,and asked who cut her hair she says mommy did …and to me since this is temporary….why and how can they be allowed to cut a child’s hair or have the children call them mommy or daddy …it is already traumatizing to a child to be with a stranger and it’s upsetting to a oldest grandson is with family.amd do to the whole situation that happened at my home ,I’m working on my home and actually looking to buy a home somewhere else.or I would be able to keep them myself but of the circumstances I can’t at this time.

    1. Hello Cynthia,

      This is Courtney Brown, Family Advocate from embrella. I want to thank you so much for reaching out to us for assistance. It’s unfortunate to hear about the difficulties that your family has been experiencing. When children are removed from a home the resource parent’s responsibility is to accept the children in their home as if they were their own child and to provide a nurturing and loving environment. I know it’s very hard to hear your grandchild refer to someone else as her mother but this is a sign that the child may feel comfortable in the home. The resource parent’s goal is never to try to take the place of a parent. They are temporarily stepping in to care and provide for the children until they are reunited with their parents. In regards to a resource parent cutting a child’s hair I have not been able to locate a policy where it states that a resource parent is not allowed to cut a child’s hair in New Jersey. It is recommended that the resource parent contact the child’s caseworker first to see if it is allowed. The caseworker would then contact the parents if they are available to get permission. I would recommend that the children’s mother contact the caseworker to express her concerns about the child’s haircut. Even though this is a difficult time, I am glad to hear that your daughter and her fiancé are getting the help they need so that they are reunified with the children in the future.

      Here at embrella, we pride ourselves in providing as much information, support, and advocacy for those in need. If you have any further questions, feel free to contact us for further assistance.

      Courtney Brown

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