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Child Trends Comments on Proposed Rule to Develop Separate Licensing Standards for Relative or Kinship Foster Homes

Research BriefOut-of-home Placement and PermanencyMay 9 2023

Child Trends has responded with comments on a proposed rule from the Administration on Children, Youth and Families that would allow states to develop separate licensing standards for relative or kinship foster homes. We believe this rule can play an important function in streamlining the foster home licensing process for kinship caregivers, opening the door to the services and supports that will help them and the children they care for thrive.

Kinship caregiving plays an incredibly important role in the lives of many of our nation’s children: Over 2.5 million children are being raised by relatives—including grandparents, aunts, uncles, or siblings—or by close family friends without their parents in the home. We know that providing services and supports to this population of children and youth is critical to their health and well-being. For the subset of these children who are in foster care or at risk of entering foster care, kinship care plays a unique role in keeping them connected to their families, cultures, and communities during a time of incredible turmoil and trauma. Nationally, in 2020 there were 137,356 children in foster care who were in kinship placements.


Based on our experience working closely with kinship caregivers, child welfare case workers and leaders, communities, and programs designed to support kinship caregivers and the children in their care, we make the following recommendations:

  1. Promote adoption of the new rule by publicizing the benefits for children and families—including the economic and societal benefits—and providing implementation tools.
  2. Direct agencies to clearly communicate available placement options to kinship caregivers—in addition to information on the implications of those choices—so kinship caregivers can make informed decisions about the resources, supports, or arrangements that best meet their needs.
  3. Encourage agencies to adopt broad definitions of fictive kin, which will help children maintain ties to their cultures and communities.
  4. Begin collecting better federal data on kinship placements so state leaders and communities can begin to measure the impact of implementation on agency practice and child outcomes.


Suggested Citation

Emig, C. (2023). Child Trends comments on proposed rule to develop separate licensing standards for relative or kinship foster homes [comments on notice of proposed rulemaking, Children’s Bureau, Administration on Children, Youth and Families]. Child Trends.