Wednesday, March 21, 2007

New Report Highlights Need for Subsidized Guardianship

By Mary Boo, NACAC assistant director

Last week, Kids Are Waiting and Generations United released Time for Reform: Support Relatives in Providing Foster Care and Permanent Families for Children. This valuable report details research that identifies the value of relative care and highlights the need for reform to better support relative caregivers. Key findings include:

• Children in relative foster care are as safe or safer than children placed with non-relative foster families.

• Relative foster placements tend to be more stable than placements with unrelated families.

• Brothers and sisters are more likely to be able to stay together when placed with relative foster parents.

• Relatives are often willing to adopt or become permanent guardians when reunification isn’t possible.

In spite of these positives, federal policy does not encourage relative care as it should. Many of relative caregivers are older and on fixed incomes, and they need help to care for their kin. Federal funds can be used to support these caregivers while the children remain in foster care, but not when they are ready and willing to help these children leave care to a permanent, loving family. Almost 20,000 foster children could leave care today if their caregivers could become legal guardians and receive the financial support available to adoptive families. It’s time for federally supported subsidized guardianship.

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