Summary of the Kinship Caregiver Support Act
110th Congress (S. 661 and H.R. 2188)
The 2000 U.S. Census reports that more that 4.5 million children in the United States are living in grandparent-headed households - a 30% increase from 1990 to 2000, and an additional 1.5 million children are living in households headed by other relatives. 2.4 million grandparents reported that they were primarily responsible for meeting the basic needs of their grandchildren; parents were not present in about one-third of these families.
Grandparents and other relatives raising children often face a variety of unnecessary barriers, including difficulties enrolling children in school, authorizing medical treatment, maintaining their public housing leases, obtaining affordable legal services, and accessing a variety of federal benefits and services. Almost one-fifth of grandparents responsible for their grandchildren live in poverty.
In the U.S. Senate on February 16, 2007, Senators Clinton (D-NY), Snowe (R-ME), and Cochran (R-MS) introduced the Kinship Caregiver Support Act (S.661). In the U.S. House of Representatives on May 7, 2007, Representatives Davis (D-IL) and Johnson (R-IL) introduced the House companion bill (H.R. 2188). Both bills are similar in that they aim to reach the same goals. However, there are some minor technical differences in the bills.
Title I: Kinship Navigator Program
Title II: Subsidized Guardianship Option for Title IV-E
- Both bills establish a Kinship Navigator Program to assist grandparents and other relative caregivers in locating needed services and supports that they need for their children and themselves (e.g. respite care, child care, housing assistance, support groups, and other vital services).
- Both bills give states the option to use their Title IV-E funds (currently used for foster care and adoption services) to provide payments to grandparents and other relatives who have assumed legal guardianship of children they've cared for as foster parents. The eligible child must have been under the care of a state agency for a 12-month period and eligible for foster care maintenance payments under Title IV-E foster care funding.
- Both bills expand eligibility for the Foster Care Independence Program for youths exiting foster care to adoption or legal guardianship.
Title III: Notice of Children Entering Foster Care
- Although both bills extend subsidized guardianship to children who are eligible for foster care payments, the House also includes children living in relatives homes determined by the courts and State agency as meeting all applicable State safety standards other licensure. The Senate bill extends eligibility to children who have been removed from their homes due to voluntary placement agreements or judicial determinations. The House bill includes rural area and other interested state entities to extend eligibility for the demonstration program to an agency of a State, a political subdivision of a State, a tribal organization, or a consortium of such agencies or organizations. The House bill extends both independent living services and educational and training vouchers for children exiting care at age 14 or older. Whereas, the Senate bill extends eligibility for educational and training vouchers to children exiting care at age 16 or older.
Note: All minor differences between S. 661 and H.R. 2188 are not incorporated in this document.
- Both bills identify within 60 days of child's removal from custody of the parent or parents, the state must give notice to all adult grandparents and other adult relatives including relatives suggested by the parent(s). Exceptions can be made to this requirement in cases of family or domestic violence. The notice must provide specifics that the child has been removed and explain the options a relative may have in the care and placement of the child according to federal, state or local law.
- Both bills allow states to create separate licensing standards for relative foster parents and non-relative foster parents. Nevertheless, both sets of standards must protect children and include formal background investigations of potential caregivers. This provision identifies that certain licensing standards for relative caregivers are irrelevant (e.g. separate bedrooms for each child).
These data are taken from the U.S. Census Bureau Table DP-2. Profile Selected Social Characteristics: 2000.
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