What is Kinship Care?

Children are in kinship care when they cannot live with their parents, but live full-time with a relative or any non-relative who has a long-standing relationship with the child or family. Kinship care is the most desirable living arrangement for children who cannot live with their parents. It helps children preserve a sense of family and belonging. It can help children identify with their family’s culture and traditions.

If I Accept a Child Into My Home as a Kinship Caregiver, Do I Have Custody of the Child?

There are two types of custody:

  • Physical Custody – The child lives with you but you have no legal authority to make decisions for the child. You may have input into decisions but Highland County Children’s Services is the legal guardian and makes all decisions affecting the child. Children’s Services will be actively involved with your family and the child.
  • Legal Custody or Guardianship – You must go to court, and the court grants legal custody or guardianship. As the legal guardian, you have the authority to make most major decisions regarding the child. The Children’s Services case will usually be closed and you and the child will no longer be involved with Children’s Services.

Types of Kinship Care:

  • An informal agreement between family members or with a non-relative. This arrangement can occur when Highland County Children’s Services does not have legal custody of the child.
  • Kinship caregiver – The caregiver has physical custody, and Highland County Children’s Services has temporary custody.
  • Kinship guardian – The caregiver has temporary custody and physical custody. Highland County Children’s Services typically closes the case.
  • Kinship foster care – The caregiver is a licensed foster parent and has physical custody of the child. Highland County Children’s Services has temporary custody.
  • Kinship adoption – The biological parents’ rights are terminated and the relative caregiver becomes the child’s legal parent.

As a Kinship Care Provider, What Kind of Financial Support is Available?

In most cases, the following financial support is available to kinship caregivers whether they have physical or legal custody:

  • Cash Assistance (OWF)
    Cash assistance is a federal program which provides a fixed monthly check.
    • Kinship caregivers may apply for cash assistance for the child or sibling group in their care.
    • Your income and assets will not be considered when determining eligibility for child-only cash assistance. However, if you have little or no income you can apply as a family.
    • Child-only cash assistance payments are paid on a sliding scale based on the size of the sibling group.
    • You must be a blood relative in order to receive child-only cash assistance.
    • Non-relative kinship caregivers are not eligible unless they take legal custody and become the child’s guardian.
    • To apply, submit an application at Highland County JFS.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security
    In rare instances, a child is eligible for SSI due to a disability or for social security benefits due to the death or disability of a parent.
    • As a kinship caregiver, you may be eligible to become payee for the child’s benefits.
    • The child’s case manager can tell you if the child receives or is eligible to receive either of these benefits.
  • Medicaid
    Medicaid is state and federally funded health care coverage.
    • Kinship caregivers, both relative and non-relative, may apply for a Medicaid card for the child or sibling group in their care.
    • Your income and assets will not be considered when determining eligibility unless you choose to apply for yourself as well.
    • If you have qualified for cash assistance you will automatically qualify for a Medicaid card.
    • To apply, submit an application at Highland County JFS.
  • Food Assistance
    Food assistance is a monthly benefit provided to eligible families.
    • Kinship caregivers may apply, but the entire household’s income and assets are considered for eligibility. You cannot receive food assistance for just the child or sibling group in your care.
  • Publicly Funded Child Care
    Publicly Funded Child Care Services is a state program intended to partially cover the cost of child care for eligible low and moderate-income families.
    • You must have physical custody of the child
    • Need is established by caregiver’s participation in work, school or training
    • Your gross monthly household income for your family size must be at or less than 125% of the Federal Poverty Level for initial eligibility. This increases to 200% to maintain ongoing eligibility.
    • Refer to Child Care: Income Guidelines for additional information.
    • To apply, submit an application at Highland County JFS.
  • Kinship Permanency Incentive Program (KPI)
    KPI is a state program designed to promote and support kinship caregivers to become guardians or custodians for children who would otherwise be at risk of harm if they remained in their own homes.
    • Financial support is of a temporary nature, with payments every six months for a maximum period of four years. Payment amounts are adjusted by the state based on availability of funding. A new application is required every six months.
    • Caregiver must have been awarded legal custody or guardianship on or after July 1, 2005.
    • Caregiver must be a legal resident of the State of Ohio.
    • Kinship placement must be approved by HCJFS (home study)
    • Your income must be below 300% of the Federal Poverty Level (exclusions include documented cash assistance payments and up to $100/month of child support received on behalf of the child)

What Do I Do if I Can No Longer Maintain Care of the Children in My Home?

If you are caring for children in your home as a Kinship Caregiver, and a case manager is still working with your family, you must report your concerns to the case manager. Your case manager may be able to assist you in finding ways to stabilize the placement or will find an alternate placement if necessary.

If the Children’s Services case has been closed and you no longer have a case manager, you should call 393-3111 – or the Children’s Services agency in the county in which you reside – for assistance in finding an alternate placement if needed. Do not return the child(ren) to the home from which they were removed unless a Children’s Services agency has completed safety and risk assessments.

Can I Become a Licensed Foster Parent For the Kinship Children in My Care?

  • Please ask your case manager if you are interested in becoming a licensed foster parent.

Once you have chosen an agency, contact the agency’s foster care training representative to determine their training requirements and schedule.