Description of the Problem
The Texas the Kinship Care program is codified in the Texas Family Code Section 262.201(f). The enactment of such a policy that calls for placement of children within their family unit became important to maintain familial ties, as well as, providing stability and security to children with the least amount of disruption in their lives when they must be removed from their parents care. Kinship Care programs are economically advantageous to local, state and federal government as it is not considered formal foster care. Often times, children’s protective agencies will help facilitate the placement of children with relatives forging legal action to obtain custody of the child(ren). Foster care is a program in which caregivers are trained and license, whereas Kinship care is informal and most often is provided by a growing number of grandparents. In return, licensed foster parents receive compensation based on the level of care each child requires. The term foster care refers to care given to children under the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services' (DFPS) legal responsibility who are placed in foster homes, foster group homes, institutions, residential treatment facilities, juvenile facilities, and who are in a placement paid by DFPS or some other public facility. The latest data, obtained for the years 2011-2013, reveals there are over 30,000 children in foster care in Texas. Additionally, Texas is reported to have 253,000 children in Kinship Care that are being cared for by relatives or fictive kin that are not officially in the system due to informal agreement of Kinship Care (datacenter.kidcount.org, 2012). Prior to the 80’s, placement with relatives was a rare occurrence as children were typically placed in a home with licensed foster parents. However, now there is great emphasis on minimizing the traumatic effects on children as a result of being separated from not only their parents but their extended family members, such as, grandparents, aunts, uncle, and cousins. Children placed in Kinship Care are more likely to maintain a connection to school, church, and extended family which provides a higher level of psychological security.
Title and Description of Relevant Policy
Kinship Care is akin to the federal Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978. As well, it falls under the federal policy of the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980. Both the ICWA and the AACW strive for family preservation, especially cultural preservation. Kinship care encompasses an arrangement where children cannot live with their parents and are cared for by a relative or someone with whom a substantial relationship exist. While some states use a narrow definition of kin as being only those related by blood or marriage, many states , including Texas, have a broad definition and includes fictive kin; persons beyond blood relatives or by affinity—for example, tribes, clans, godparents, family friends, or...