Kinship care has become an essential placement option for children entering the Texas child welfare system. In Texas, the term “Kinship care” describes situations in which relatives or other people that have a significant and longstanding relationship with the child or the child’s family agree to serve as a placement for children who have been removed from their own homes. Kinship placements meet children’s needs for safety, cultural relevance, and permanency in a familiar environment. Children in Kinship placements have shorter stays in care, fewer placement disruptions, and better outcomes compared to children in paid non-kinship foster care.
In 2005 the Texas Legislature established the Relative and Other Designated Caregiver program (aka Kinship Program) in order to provide limited financial assistance to eligible kinship caregivers caring for children in the managing conservatorship of the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). In order to be eligible for the Kinship program, the caregivers must be at 300% of the federal poverty level and have an approved home study.
When compared to paid foster care, kinship care is a cheaper option than paid foster care. Kinship caregivers participating in the Relative and Other Designated Caregiver program receive a one-time integration payment of $1000 and may be eligible for an annual reimbursement payment of $500 per child. In contrast, the average foster care placement per child for one year is $21,593. According to the DFPS 2010 Databook, 6,032 families and 10,644 children received kinship caregiver monetary assistance in fiscal year 2010. The total expenditure for the kinship caregiver monetary assistance payments in fiscal year 2010 was $8,245,417.23.
In addition, kinship caregivers in Texas have historically not pursued verification to become a foster parent. However, as a result of the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008, DFPS is required to notify kinship caregivers in writing within 30 days of a child’s removal, as well as inform caregivers of the options they have to either provide support or placement (either as a kinship caregiver or as a kinship foster parent) to the child.
HB 1511 and SB 2080 from the 2009 81st Texas legislative session gave state support to the optional elements of the federal legislation regarding a kinship guardianship assistance program (called the Permanency Care Assistance Program) and the additional extended foster care options for youth 18 up to the month of their 21stbirthday. In Texas, the subsidized guardianship program is named the “Permanency Care Assistance” (PCA) program.
Kinship families are eligible for PCA, if the following exist for a child/youth in DFPS conservatorship:
- Kinship family serves as a verified foster parents for 6 consecutive months, with the child residing in the verified home for that time;
- Adoption and Family Reunification are ruled out by DFPS as permanency plan options;
- Child demonstrates a strong attachment to the kinship caregiver and older youth are consulted about the PCA plan;
- Kinship family enters into a PCA Agreement with DFPS after negotiating the monthly assistance payment; and
- Kinship family is granted PMC of the child by a court after the PCA Agreement is agreed upon by DFPS and the kinship caregiver.
This blog is meant to inform the reader of policy issues related to kinship care and resources available to relatives caring for their relative children.
DFPS Implementation of the Fostering Connections Act: http://www.dfps.state.tx.us/About/Legislative_Presentations/CPS/default.asp
According to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, “Kinship care is the umbrella term used to describe substitute care that is provided to a child in DFPS conservatorship by relatives or fictive kin who live outside of the child’s home. ” Kinship caregivers can be related to the child by blood, marriage or adoption. DFPS also considers anyone who has a longstanding, significant relationship with the child and family as “fictive kin.” In contrast, HHSC only considers kinship caregivers as those related by blood, marriage or adoption when assessing whether caregivers qualify for public assistance.
Children in kinship care while in DFPS managing conservatorship has increased over the past 8 years. According to the DFPS 2002 Databook, in fiscal year 2002 there were 3,494 children in DFPS’ managing conservatorship who were placed in Kinship care. Subsequently, the DFPS 2010 Databook shows that by fiscal year 2010, the number of children in DFPS’ managing conservatorshop had increased to 8,914.
For more definitions related to Kinship Care please refer to the DFPS Website
DFPS Kinship Manual: DFPS Kinship Manual
DFPS Databooks: DFPS Databooks