Kinship Care

What is Kinship Care?

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 almost 200,000 children in Ohio are being raised by their grandparents or other kinship caregivers, which is at least 7 percent of all children in the state.

Kinship care includes relationships established through an informal arrangement, legal custody or 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.

Kinship Permanency Incentive Program

The Kinship Permanency Incentive Program (KPIP) is designed to encourage kinship caregivers to make permanent commitments by helping defray some of the costs of caring for children. Eligible caregivers receive a one-time payment to reduce costs of initial placement. They may receive subsequent payments every six months to support the stability of the child’s placement in the home. Kinship caregivers can receive a maximum of six payments, for a maximum of 36 months. Participation in KPIP does not prevent these families from also receiving child-only Ohio Works First cash assistance.

To be eligible for KPIP, a kinship caregiver must have:

• Legal custody or guardianship of the child on or after July 1, 2005, and

• A gross family income of less than 300 percent of the federal poverty guideline.

Kinship caregivers may apply for the program at Coshocton Job and Family Services at 740-622-1020. They must submit to both a family home assessment and a criminal background check.

The Ohio Resource Guide

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services publishes an extensive guidebook for kinship families called “Ohio Resource Guide for Relatives Caring for Children.” To obtain a copy, call 1-866-886-3537 (option 4) or go to http://www.odjfs.state.oh.us/forms/inter.asp, click on “Form Name” and search for “Ohio Resource Guide.”



Foster Care

What is foster care?

When children cannot safely remain in their own homes, they are placed in a temporary living situation called foster care. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) develops rules and guidelines to help county agencies implement foster care programs. When a child must be removed from home, a court will grant temporary custody of the child to a Public Children Services Agency (PCSA). From there, a caseworker will attempt to find a safe place for the child to stay.

How do you determine the best placements for children?

Caseworkers first try to place children with a suitable relative, to help maintain family bonds. This is known as kinship care. When kinship care is not an option, the caseworker will attempt to find a suitable non-relative with whom the child or family has a relationship. If the caseworker is unable to place the child with a relative or a non-relative who has a relationship with the family, the child is placed into a licensed foster care setting. This might be a foster home, a residential group home or treatment facility, or an independent living program for youths ages 16 to 18.

Each caseworker strives to achieve a culturally sensitive placement. To preserve relationships and help minimize disruption to the child’s life, caseworkers try to place children in their own neighborhoods or communities whenever possible. When it is believed that the best placement for a child would be in another state, that placement must meet all the requirements of the federal Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC). Ohio’s ICPC staff must authorize the placement of all children into Ohio from other states or from Ohio to other states.

How is foster care regulated?

Suitable relatives and non-relatives must either be licensed by ODJFS Foster Care Licensing staff or approved by the local PCSA. Foster Care Licensing staff members conduct inspections of all licensed foster care agencies and facilities, and a sample of each PCSA’s foster homes. The following agencies require licensure:

• Private child-placing agencies, which accept temporary or permanent legal custody of children. These agencies may operate residential facilities (such as group homes, residential centers and crisis care facilities) or independent living programs. Staff at these agencies recommend foster homes for certification and place children in foster care and with adoptive families.

• Private noncustodial agencies, which provide many of the same services as private child-placing agencies but do not accept legal custody of children.

• County PCSAs that operate residential programs.

• Local public entities that are not PCSAs but operate residential programs.

The goal of licensing is to determine whether agencies are fit to provide foster care, residential care and/or independent living services. Placement settings — such as foster homes, group homes and residential centers — are monitored to ensure compliance with ODJFS rules. ODJFS Foster Care Licensing staff members review such things as the agency’s records, personnel, policies and practices to ensure compliance with administrative rules. When necessary, they provide guidance to agency staff to improve compliance with regulations. Measures also can be taken to revoke an agency’s license for noncompliance.

How can I become a foster parent?

Anyone who is at least 21 years old is eligible to foster a child. You may be single, married or divorced. You may own or rent your home. Before you are approved to become a foster parent, a caseworker will conduct a home study of your residence and help you determine your parenting strengths. If you are approved, you will receive training, medical coverage and payments to help you meet the daily living needs of the child or children placed in your care. If you’re interested in becoming a foster parent, contact Coshocton Job and Family Services at 740-622-1020.

When is adoption considered?

Foster care is intended to be temporary. If a court determines that it is not in a child’s best interest to return home, the agency will take steps to find an alternative, permanent placement for the child. Such placements may include adoption or legal guardianship.

What services are available for children who age-out of foster care?

When a youth turns 18 while in foster care, this is called “aging out.” When a youth ages out, he or she must transition from foster care to independent living and self-sufficiency. This process often is difficult, so Ohio’s 88 county PCSAs provide independent living services to children in foster care who are between the ages of 16 and 18, to help them successfully transition to adulthood. These services include life-skills development training; education and vocational training; preventive health activities; financial, housing, employment and education assistance; self-esteem counseling; and assistance with developing positive relationships and support systems.

PCSAs also may offer independent living services to help young adults ages 18 to 21, who formerly were in foster care, with rent and other costs.

In addition, the Education and Training Voucher Program provides federal assistance for education for young people who aged out of foster care or who were adopted after age 16. Up to $5,000 is available to eligible youth each year until they reach age 23. To qualify, they must enroll in a full-time post-secondary education or training program by age 21, continue to be enrolled, and make satisfactory progress. Funding may be used to pay for tuition, room and board, student loan repayment, books and supplies, transportation, and other related expenses.


Adoption

Every child deserves a permanent family — a family where they can be loved, cared for and kept safe. In Ohio, adoption services are provided by public children services agencies, private child placing agencies and private noncustodial agencies, all of which are supervised by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS). The mission of ODJFS is to support local agencies in their efforts to decrease the number of children waiting for permanent homes, to prevent discrimination in the placement of children, to identify and recruit permanent families who can meet each child’s needs, and to provide support to families to ensure the stability and well-being of the children in their care.

On any given day in Ohio, more than 3,200 children are waiting for adoptive families. If you would like more information about adoption, contact Coshocton Job and Family Services at 740-622-1020.

Preventing Discrimination in Adoptive Placements

The Multiethnic Placement Act (MEPA) of 1994 and the Interethnic Adoption Provisions of 1996 prohibit federally funded child placing agencies from denying or delaying placements on the basis of race, color or national origin. They also prohibit agencies from denying or delaying the opportunity for any person to become an adoptive or foster parent on the basis of race, color or national origin. Failure to comply with MEPA can result in a loss of substantial federal funding for Ohio. To ensure statewide compliance with MEPA, adoption services staff members work with the ODJFS Office of Legal Services, the ODJFS

Bureau of Civil Rights and the federal Office for Civil Rights when developing policies and training programs and providing guidance to foster care and adoption agencies.

Putative Father Registry

The Putative Father Registry is a computerized database, maintained by ODJFS, which allows anyone who thinks he may have fathered a child to be notified if that child is made available for adoption. If the putative father does not register either before the child’s birth or within 30 days after the child’s birth, the child could be legally adopted without the putative father’s knowledge or consent. If a child is placed for adoption and a putative father is listed in the registry, the father will be notified and can seek legal counsel regarding his rights.

Supporting Families through Adoption Subsidies

Several types of financial subsidies are available to help families meet the special needs of their adopted children:

Adoption Assistance Program – The Adoption Assistance Program allows states to provide monthly subsidies to eligible families that adopt children with special needs or circumstances. This subsidy is paid for with a combination of federal, state and, in some instances, local funds. Children receiving this benefit may be entitled to additional assistance, including Medicaid coverage.

State Adoption Subsidy Program – The State Adoption Subsidy Program is a financial assistance program funded entirely by the state of Ohio. It provides monthly subsidies to families that adopt children with special needs who are ineligible for the Adoption Assistance Program. Children who qualify also may beeligible for Medicaid coverage.

Post Adoption Special Services Subsidy Program – The Post Adoption Special Services Subsidy Program offers eligible families financial assistance to help pay for the treatment of physical, developmental, mental or emotional conditions for children they adopt. Usually, this includes mental health, respite care and counseling services. Ohio has been nationally recognized for this innovative program.

State Adoption Assistance Loan Fund Program – The State Adoption Assistance Loan Fund Program provides loans to prospective adoptive parents who live in Ohio. The loan money covers adoption fees, court costs, attorney fees and other expenses directly related to the legal adoption of a child. A prospective adoptive parent may receive up to $3,000 from the loan program if the child being adopted lives in Ohio and up to $2,000 if the child is from outside Ohio. For additional information on the State Adoption Assistance Loan Fund, contact your local public children services agency, any private adoption agency or any Fifth Third Bank. Visit http://www.53.com or call 1-866-53LOANS to contact a Fifth Third Bank or to find your nearest branch.




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