Homes With Heart VC Relative Caregivers | Homes With Heart VC

Become a Relative Caregiver

What is Kinship care?

In the United States more than 6 million children live in homes where the head of the household is a grandparent or other relative. Current research shows that children and youth who live with kin often benefit because they are more likely to:

  • Remain with their siblings
  • Report being happy
  • Stabilize in their own school
  • Maintain family cultural practices

California law requires that when a child is removed from their home, relatives are searched for and if found, contacted and informed about the child’s removal. This allows relatives the option of helping the child during this difficult time.

“Kinship Care” refers to a temporary or permanent arrangement in which a relative or any non-relative adult, who has a long-standing relationship or bond with the child and/or family, has taken over the full-time, substitute care of a child whose parents are unable or unwilling to do so.  Kinship caregivers may be grandparents, great-grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, or family friends of the children in their care.

What is the difference between Foster Parents and Relative Caregivers?

The role of Foster Parents and Relative Caregivers are very similar.  Both sets of caregivers provide a supportive and stable family for children who cannot live with their birth parents. In most cases, Foster Parents and Relative Caregivers work with Foster VC Kids’ staff to reunite the child with birth parents or achieve the best possible permanency option for the child.

Foster Parents are licensed to provide care for children not related to them, whereas relatives go through an approval process which does not guarantee placement of the child into the home.  Foster VC Kids places children in an approved relative home or licensed foster home based on the best interest of the child and the caregiver’s ability to meet the child’s needs.

Foster Parents

Foster care is the temporary care of children whose families are having problems and the child cannot safely remain in the home.  Foster parents provide a safe and nurturing environment for the child and work as a team with to achieve the best possible permanency outcome for that child.

Relative Caregiver

Relative (or Kinship) Caregiver means an adult who is related to the child by blood, adoption, or affinity within the fifth degree of kinship, including step-parents, step-siblings, and all relatives whose status is preceded by the words “great,””great-great,” or “grand,” or the spouse of any of these persons, even if the marriage was terminated by death or dissolution. CA Welfare & Institutions Code §319 (f)(2).

This term includes a parent, sibling, grandparent, aunt, uncle, nephew, niece, great-grandparent, great-aunt or great uncle (grandparents’ sibling), first cousin, great-great grandparent, great-great-aunt or great great uncle (great-grandparents’ sibling), first cousin once removed (parent’s first cousin), and great-great-great-grandparent; a step-parent or step-sibling; and the spouse or domestic partner of any of the people described above, even if the marriage or partnership was terminated by death or dissolution. Cal. Rules of Court 502(34).

Non-Relative Caregiver

A “non-relative extended family member” (NREFM) is defined as any adult caregiver who has an established familial or mentoring relationship with the child or relative of the child. Foster VC Kids verifies the existence of a relationship through interviews with the parent and child or with one or more third parties. The parties may include relatives of the child, teachers, medical professionals, clergy, neighbors, and family friends.

Regardless of the type of kinship care arrangement, the kinship caregivers’ voluntary commitment to devote their lives to the children in their care is a courageous, life-changing decision.

If you are a relative or someone who is very familiar with a child who has been removed from their home and want to learn more about how to become involved, contact the Foster VC Kids Relative Approval staff at (805) 654-3405.

Relative Caregiver Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a “screening process”?

Yes. As with foster parents, Kinship care homes must pass the minimum requirements for providing care for children. Caregivers must be able to adequately care and provide for the children placed with them. The home must be safe and free from health hazards. The child must have some type of emotional tie to the kinship caregivers. The kinship caregivers must be willing to work with the Foster VC Kids when necessary and to follow the rules and regulations set forth by the social workers involved.

The screening process includes:
• Agree to a law enforcement background check and fingerprinting.
• A background check is required for the applicant as well as any person in the household who is 18+ years old. An applicant’s or household members’ prior history with law enforcement or child protective services may require more extensive consideration. While the background check process can sometimes be lengthy, it is critical to ensure the safety of the child.
• Pass a home safety inspection.
• Complete an in-home training program.
• Participate in an interview with a social worker to determine your ability to provide proper care and supervision of the child.

Passing the approval process does not give the relative the right to placement of the child. Foster VC Kids has the discretion to place in an approved home based on the best interest of the child and their needs and services.
Once you have been approved, the child’s social worker will determine whether the child will be placed in your home.

What support can I expect if I become a kinship caregiver?

Foster VC Kids and community agencies are committed to assisting you in fulfilling your role as a caregiver.

Financial Assistance
If eligible, you will receive monthly financial assistance to help pay for basic needs such as food, shelter and clothing. You may be eligible for one of two types of assistance: Aid to Families with
Dependent Children – Foster Care (AFDC-FC); or CalWORKs – “Non-Needy Relative Aid.” If you are not eligible for AFDC-FC, your social worker will provide information about applying for CalWORKs. Financial assistance begins after all Relative Approval requirements are met.

Health Care Assistance
Each child will be enrolled in the Medi- Cal program. Medi-Cal provides low-cost health insurance that covers regular doctor visits, hospitalization, immunizations, and vision and dental care.

Other support services designed to assist you as a caregiver include:
• Monthly visits with the child’s social worker
• Short-term child care or “respite” care for up to 12 hours per month
• Support groups, mentoring, education, training, and referrals provided by Kids & Families Together (805) 643-1446
• Funding support for medical services, education, and extra-curricular activities provided by the Children’s Services Auxiliary, Raising HOPE or general resource support (805) 289-1926

I work outside the home. Can I have a full-time job and become a kinship caregiver?

Yes, relative caregivers can work outside the home provided that adequate child care can be provided for the child.

Is it right for my family?

When considering how you may be able to help a child during this critical time, it is important to understand the child’s needs and assess your family’s ability to meet them. Questions that you may ask yourselves include:

• What is my relationship to and with the child?
• Do I understand the circumstances surrounding the child’s removal from his or her parents?
• How do I feel about the circumstances?
• Will I be able to set boundaries with the parents?
• Will I support the child’s return to his/her parents when it is deemed safe by Foster VC Kids?
• Will I be able to offer the child a permanent home through guardianship or adoption if the child is not able to return to his/her parents?
• Can I commit to the well-being of the child?
• Will I need financial assistance to care for the child?

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