News of the Family First Prevention Services Act caused a major upset for many, particularly in regards to kinship caregivers. Its implementation would remove kinship caregivers’ eligibility to receive foster care payments. This foster care overhaul is the largest of its kind since 1980. It aims to keep families together for as long as possible through the use of parenting classes, substance abuse treatment, and mental health services.
What happens when a child has a family member who will take him in, but the relative simply cannot afford to support another person? The child goes to a foster care placement with a stranger? Everyone can agree that’s the best solution. Well, there may be hope for kinship providers after all.
According to experts, the law will make it easier for kinship caregivers to become licensed foster parents, which will give them the same advantage of financial support afforded to other foster parents. The changes will also involve enacting “kinship navigator” programs to connect grandparents and other relatives with counseling, housing assistance, and other support services.
“The law is hammering home the importance of family connections,” said Ana Beltran, special adviser for Generations United, a Washington, D.C.-based family research and advocacy group. “It’s a huge step forward.”
Jaia Lent, deputy executive director of Generations United, says, “For every one child in foster care with relatives, there are actually 20 being raised outside of foster care with grandparents or other relatives. So we really want to be supporting the children and the family if the child can’t remain with their parents, whether they’re in foster care or outside of foster care.”
The Family First Prevention Services Act comes as a result of a crisis happening in our country. High numbers of kids are entering the foster care system with too few caregivers to provide them homes. Some states have such a shortage that the children in foster care are staying in shelters.