§4 ch12: Relative or Kinship Care
12.1 Definition and Purpose
A Relative is a person related to another by blood or affinity within the third degree. (RSMo 210.565.2) Relative care is provided by persons related to the foster youth in any of the following by blood, marriage or adoption; grandparent, great-grandparent, brother, sister, half-brother, half-sister, stepparent, stepbrother, stepsister, uncle, or aunt. This designation applies to homes who apply to care for children for whom the agency has legal custody. Relative care is the least restrictive family-like setting for children requiring out-of-home placement. Relative care reinforces the social status that comes from belonging to a family of one’s own and the sense of identity and self-esteem that is inherent in knowing one’s family history and culture.
Regardless of which of the five permanency options; Reunification, Adoption, Guardianship, Placement with Fit and Willing Relative, or Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement (APPLA), is being considered for a foster youth, relative care is the placement of preference and should, if at all possible, be pursued prior to making any other type of out-of-home placement, unless a court determines that placing a foster youth with a relative is not in the best interest of that foster youth. The court must make specific findings on the record detailing why placement with a relative is not in the best interest of the foster youth.
Kinship is defined as: A person who is non-related by blood, marriage or adoption who has a close relationship with the child or child’s family (godparents, neighbors, teachers, close family friends, and fellow church members) or a person who has a close relationship with the child or child’s family and is related to the child by blood or affinity beyond the third degree.
Kinship care is one of the least restrictive family-like settings for children requiring out-of-home placement. Children have the opportunity for continued family relationships and contact with persons, groups and institutions they were involved with while living with their parents
When out-of-home care is imminent, the Children’s Service Worker should ask the parent and foster youth to identify potential relative or kinship providers. After removal of a foster youth from his/her home, a list of potential relative or kinship providers should be obtained from the parents at the 72-hour Family Support Team meeting. This list and efforts to locate potential providers should also be documented in the assessment and treatment section of the case record, in Section III of the CS-1, and on the Child/Family Health and Developmental Assessment, CW103.
Factors to consider in identifying potential relative or kinship care providers are as follows:
- Who would the parent and foster youth most want to care for the foster youth;
- Who does the parent and foster youth most often turn to in time of crisis;
- Who has cared for the foster youth in the past when parents were unable to; and
- With whom does the foster youth have a close relationship with?
Missouri Revised Statute 210.565.4 Specifies that the age of the foster youth’s relatives, shall not be the only factor taken into consideration in placement decision recommendations to the court about placing the foster youth with a relative.
After identifying a potential relative care or kinship care provider, the Children’s Division Worker should ask the family to describe the relationship with that individual/family, to include the following:
- Provider’s relationship to the foster youth and length of involvement with the family;
- Description of the provider’s involvement with the family, i.e., provided care for the foster youth and/or parent, assisted the family through crisis, provided moral support, member of church or community organization, neighbor, etc.; and
- Whether the provider ever resided in the home with the parent or foster youth and, if so, how long and when.