About Kinship Care
Kinship care is commonly defined as "the full-time care, nurturing, and protection of a child by relatives, godparents, stepparents, or other adults who have a family relationship to a child." The relationship should be respected on the basis of the family's cultural values and emotional ties. There are many benefits to placing children with relatives or other kinship caregivers, such as increased stability and safety as well as the ability to maintain family connections and cultural traditions. The following resources provide basic information about kinship care, including definitions, discusses the benefits of kinship care for children and families, presents information on the needs of and challenges faced by kinship caregivers, and describes the prevalence of kinship care in the United States.
When a child must be removed from his or her home, caseworkers first try to place the child with a family member or close family friend. This is known as kinship care, and it represents the most desirable out-of-home placement option for children who cannot live with their parents. Kinship care offers family preservation and the greatest level of stability by allowing a child to maintain his or her sense of belonging and by enhancing the child’s ability to identify with his or her family’s culture and traditions.
Kinship care can be a temporary or permanent arrangement in which a relative or nonrelative adult who has a long-standing relationship with the child and/or family takes over the full-time substitute care of that child when the parents are unable or unwilling to do so. In many cases, kinship caregivers are grandparents. It has been estimated that nearly 9 percent of all children in Ohio are being raised by kinship caregivers.
Kinship care includes relationships established through an informal arrangement, legal custody, guardianship order, foster care placement or adoption. Regardless of the type of arrangement, the kinship caregivers’ voluntary commitment to devote their lives to the children in their care is a courageous, life-changing decision.
Ohio offers two programs for kinship caregivers: the Kinship Permanency Incentive Program and the Kinship Child Care Program. To apply for either of them, contact your county public children services agency or county department of job and family services. To find your local agency, visit jfs.ohio.gov/county.