The Kinship Care and Fictive Kin Reform Act
Section 1. Title.
This Act shall be known as The Kinship Care and Fictive Kin Reform Act.
Section 2. Purpose.
All children need safe homes, nurturing role models and caring relationships to grow and thrive. Sometimes children cannot stay in their homes with their parents for a variety of reasons such as parental death, military deployment, abuse and neglect, parental substance abuse, mental illness, incarceration, serious physical illness, and disability. During these difficult times, relatives or individuals who maintain a significant relationship with the child should be allowed to step in to provide care. Kinship care and Fictive Kin can be an extremely valuable alternative to a foster family home, as they allow children to retain strong familial and familiar bonds which provide a sense of positive identity, belonging and security.
Children and youth placed within kinship networks experience more stable placements, have better mental and emotional outcomes, and have more intact family relationships. Children and youth who are able to gain kinship supports during their time in care are statistically less likely to re-report maltreatment and re-enter care after exiting, and have more favorable exit outcomes resulting in a higher rate of reunification or permanency with kin than their peers without kinship support. This bill outlines the necessary steps that will aid in the successful establishment of and placement in supportive kinship networks.
Section 3. Definitions.
“Department” means the secretary for the Department of State Health Services or equivalent agency that governs the state Foster Care program;
“Fictive Kin” means an individual who is not related by birth, adoption, or marriage to a child, but who has an emotionally significant relationship with the child;
“Foster family home” means a private home in which children are placed for foster care under supervision of the Department or of a licensed child-placing agency;
“Kinship Care” is when children are legally put into the care of relatives or extended family members within the fifth degree of kinship or with fictive kin.
“Out-of-home placement” means a placement other than in the home of a parent, relative, or guardian, in a boarding home, clinical treatment facility, community-based facility, detention facility, emergency shelter, Fictive Kin home, Foster family home, hospital, non-secure facility, physically secure facility, residential treatment facility, or youth alternative center.
“Public Safety Department” or equivalent Justice Department in a state.
Section 4. The Kinship Care and Fictive Kin Reform Act.
When a child has been removed from his or her home and is in the care, custody, or guardianship of the Department of Health Services, or equivalent, the department shall attempt to identify, contact, and place the child with a relative or close family friend such as a God parent. This is typically referenced as family finding.
Requirements for Placement with Relatives, i.e. Kinship Care or Close Family Friends Fictive Kin
- Before an individual/household is approved to provide Kinship Care or Fictive Kin provider for a child, the Department shall require a criminal background investigation of the applicant and any of the applicant’s adult household members by means of a fingerprint check by the Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation; or
- Request from the Public Safety Department records of all conviction information for the applicant and any of the applicant’s adult household members. The Public Safety Department or equivalent shall furnish the information to the Department governing the state Foster Care program and shall also send a copy of the information to the applicant.
- The Kinship Foster parent shall be age 21 or older unless the Department provides otherwise by rule to carry out the provisions of this Act.
- If a child is placed and resides in a Kinship Care or Fictive Kin home for more than seventy-two (72) hours, the Department shall take action, including but not limited to the following: (a) Provide information on how to recognize and report child abuse or neglect; and (b) Ensure that, within the first five (5) days of a child under the age of five (5) years old being placed in a Kinship Care or Fictive Kin home, the Fictive Kin has completed a 21 one (1) time training course of one and one-half (1.5) hours of training covering the prevention and recognition of pediatric abusive head trauma.
- The Department shall determine whether the person is able to care effectively for the Foster child by the following methods:
- Reviewing personal and professional references;
- Observing the Kinship or Fictive Foster parent applicant with household members during a home visit;
- Interviewing the Kinship or Fictive Kin Foster applicant.
- If the permanency plan for a child is with a Kinship or Fictive Kin guardian, the individualized service plan must contain the reasons for any separation of siblings during placement.
- The child welfare agency must identify additional relational supports for the child, outside of placement and including but not limited to transportation support, visitation support, educational support, financial support, and participation in family team meetings.
- The child welfare agency must show proof of the outreach and engagement attempts made to identified relatives and fictive kin of the child, in order to establish relational supports for the child.
[Section 5. Repealer Clause]
[Section 6. Severability Clause]
[Section 7. Effective Date]