Tuesday, July 5, 2011

New Report on Kinship Waivers

The Fostering Connections Act explicitly permits child welfare agencies, on a case-by-case basis, to waive non-safety licensing standards for relative foster family homes. The Administration for Children and Families recently released a report to Congress on state relative foster family homes and the use of licensing waivers. This report, required by the Fostering Connections law, summarizes the responses of the states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico in addressing a list of questions regarding relative care in FY 2009. In addition to background information, the report includes:

  • State Data on Relative Care and Licensing Agreements
  • Assessments of the Use of Waivers
  • and, State Legislative Actions and Recommendations for Increasing Licensing among Relative Caregivers
Prior to the enactment of Fostering Connections, some States were already providing waivers to relative foster homes, however, this legislative change has encouraged more States to actively engage relatives and to increase the percentage of relative foster family homes that are licensed. The report found:
  • States tended to grant waivers of non-safety licensing standards related to the physical conditions of a relative’s home, the training required of relatives, and other minor non-safety standards.
  • States described the importance that waivers have made in allowing children to continue to be placed with relatives instead of entering a traditional foster care setting.
  • States reported that waivers are customarily approved, except in cases where the agency feels that the child may be endangered by living with a relative foster parent.
  • States reported various innovative strategies for increasing the percentage of relatives that are licensed including: identifying and recruiting relatives earlier in the process, offering alternative training options for relative caregivers, and expanding the role of family finders and kinship navigators.
  • Most States, including the 15 that do not allow licensing waivers, continue to increase their efforts to promote licensure among relatives as a way of supporting the safety, permanency, and well-being of children in care.
For more information on Fostering Connections visit

For state policy strategies on increasing exits from foster care to reunification, adoption and guardianship visit PolicyforResults.