So I want to circle back to something I alluded to a couple weeks ago. Children who are not reunified with their biological family are not automatically adoptable by a foster family. There are several possible avenues that DCS may deem most appropriate. These include a variety of possibilities: kinship, guardianship, independent living, and aging out of the system.
In this segment, I will address Kinship Placement (I’ll tackle the others in the coming weeks). A Kinship Placement is often a placement with family members (other than the biological parents). It is typically (but not limited to) a grandparent, aunt or uncle; it can even be an older sibling who is of legal age.
Another possible kinship placement could be with a family friend, close neighbor, or even a child’s teacher or other school staff member. Any of these are possible, so long as the kinship placement is stable, healthy and financially capable of caring for a child for the duration…however long that is. It might be only while a case is open, or may be forever (these placements can also culminate in adoption if reunification is not a viable option).
However, the kinship placement must become a licensed foster parent to receive the financial benefits and agency support received by other licensed foster parents. In addition, if they license through an agency (such as Children’s Bureau), they will receive the additional support that only a separate agency can provide.
Often kinship is pursued by DCS early in the case, but not always; sometimes a case is approaching the end before the biological parents will mention individuals they know who could care for their children.
Before I go further, let me say this: if you are a foster home who would like to adopt a specific child who is in your care, I am not trying to put you in panic mode! Do not panic if DCS begins looking at other options for a placement; just because a name or suggestion is thrown in the ring, it does not mean a child will be moved from a foster home. There are several things DCS will consider prior to making that move. I know from experience what it feels like, and even though it sounds trite, I am here to say that it does no good for you to worry about something which may not happen.
That said, sometimes a move from a foster home does happen, for various reasons, many of which are out of the control of the foster parents.
Next time: Guardianship.