Kinship Foster Care (Family Finding)

Relatives or adults with close ties to a child can be a resource for children through kinship foster care. Kinship care is often used when families are unable to care for their children, who must be taken into county care. Children can be placed with family or close friends (sometimes referred to as fictive kin) pending assessments, clearances, and certification. Kinship care allows families with limited resources to receive financial stipends and supports from an agency to aid in their success. This arrangement must be approved by the local county Department of Social Services (DSS) office responsible for the child as well as the county’s Family Court judge. Although the kinship foster parents can be granted an emergency certification so placement can happen quickly, they must agree to complete all requirements for foster parenting in New York state within 90 days.

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New York and Federal Requirements for Kin and Fictive Kin

New York’s definition of kin and fictive kin is all grandparents, parents of a sibling of the child where such parent has legal custody of the sibling, and other identified relatives suggested by the child’s parent or parents. Exceptions are relatives with a history of family or domestic violence.

Family Court Act §1017 requires the DSS to investigate all kin, defined as relatives of a child, including child’s grandparents, all relatives or suitable persons identified by any parent.

A “suitable person” is any person who plays or has played a significant positive role in the child’s life or in the life of the child’s family. Any relative identified by a child over the age of 5 as a relative who plays or has played a significant positive role in his or her life is eligible.

Family Court Act §1017: Court can place the child directly in the legal custody of the relative or other suitable person while the court continues to review and investigate this case.

Family Court Act §§1055 and 1027: The court may place a child in custody of DSS and direct the child to reside with a relative or other suitable person as a foster care placement. The court may order DSS to investigate the home. If qualified, the court may order an expedited approval as a foster home.

Federal and State Preference for Placement with Kin, 42 U.S.C.A. §671(a)(19): Title IV-E State plan requires the state consider giving preference to an adult relative over a nonrelated caregiver when determining a placement for a child, as long as the relative caregiver meets all relevant state child protection standards.

New York State Kinship Navigator

A helpful resource for families currently caring for kin or considering caring for kin is the New York State Kinship Navigator, a statewide information, referral, education, and advocacy program with regional offices across the state. Its website and helpline provide assistance to kinship families who need legal information and help getting connected to benefits or services.”

For more information on Kinship Navigator resources, please visit www.NYSNavigator.org or call 877.454.6463.