What is the difference in funding for typical foster care placement and relative/kinship placement?
In Indiana, typical foster home placements and what are known as relative or kinship placements are offered different financial resources and supports. A listener in Lafayette wanted to know more about why there are differences in funding.
Brenda Chapin is the vice president of program administration for The Villages, a nonprofit child and family services agency. She said those traditional foster care homes have mandatory licensing requirements.
Once licensed, these homes can receive “per diem” or daily allowance funding.
“That can range anywhere from between $21.80 a day for an infant all the way up to $70.82 a day for an older youth, who has a higher level of need,” she said.
For those intending to be a kinship provider, the situation may look different.
“Now to be a kinship provider, you don't have to be a licensed foster parent,” Chapin said. “If you choose not to get licensed, you can still have a child placed in your home by DCS. But you don't receive that per diem every day.”
Chapin said the licensing process is “cumbersome,” which is why many families in kinship placement may choose not to go through with it.
“Sometimes there are challenges for kinship homes to become licensed, because it's highly regulated, as it should be, for child safety,” she said. “And what we've run into sometimes our kinship families might not meet some of those licensing standards.”
There are still resources unlicensed relatives or kinship placements may receive to assist them financially.
Chapin said this is not “nearly as much” as the per diem payments, but can be helpful.
“They can get an initial clothing allowance, an annual personal allowance and a special occasion allowance,” she said.
Additionally, they can potentially receive travel reimbursement, bedding allowance and child care allowance – if relatives work or attend school.
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Other programs, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or food stamp programs (SNAP), are available for eligible families needing additional assistance.
Lorraine Conwell is the director of the Family Connection Network, the kinship care program at The Villages. She said relatives in relative or kinship placements can often face challenges finding these resources, especially if they are not well-versed in technology.
“For a lot of them that being mobile or not understanding the technology systems of having to apply for things online, those resources that, you know, applying for the SNAP online, applying for TANF and different things,” Conwell said. “Those can be challenges for our families as well.”
She said health may be another challenge for elderly relatives in these placements.
The Villages plans to begin a pivot to more concrete services for kinship families beginning in January. Conwell said this includes small financial boosts to help families in these situations.
“Sometimes it is just ‘my car broke down’ or it is just ‘I have this extra medical bill’ or ‘I'm behind’ and so this is gonna hurt help us kind of put out some of those smaller fires, that might be a barrier to a family keeping children in their care,” she said.
Conwell said there are existing resources, such as additional case management for those 55 and older, and support groups.