Kinship Care Vs. Foster Care- Qualifications and Requirements

When a child is in need of care, often they are able to be paired with trained and qualified foster parents. In many cases, this is a great option for a child to have a safe and welcoming home environment for a period of time. 

Alternatively, kinship care is another option available to some children. Kinship care is a wonderful option as it means a child is being cared for by a family member or relative. 

For today’s purposes, we are going to go over the differences in requirements for those providing kinship care vs. Foster care. 

Whether you have the opportunity to provide kinship care to a family member in need or are interested in becoming a foster parent, Benchmark Family Services can offer you support and foster parent training in Kentucky, Indiana, and Pennsylvania. 

Differences in requirements for Kinship Vs. Foster Care

Home Study Process

When entering kinship care, caregivers will undergo a home assessment and approval process. In contrast, foster parents experience a more detailed home study and certification process. 

A kinship care home study assessment would include the following:

  • At least one home visit and interviews.
  • Criminal background checks.
  • Child abuse and neglect checks.
  • A basic safety check of the home, including a review of the following:
    • Cleanliness of the home.
    • Absence of hazardous conditions inside and outside.
    • Safe storing of poisonous or other dangerous materials.
    • Proper heating, lighting, and ventilation.
    • Condition of plumbing and toilet facilities.
    • Working smoke alarms.
    • Safe storing of weapons. 
    • Adequacy of the child’s bedding. 
    • Availability of a working telephone.
  • An exploration of the caregiver’s willingness and ability to care for the child. 
  • Information for the caregiver about financial resources that may be available. 

The home study process for Foster Care will include everything above with the following additions:

  • Additional home visits, as necessary.
  • A more thorough safety audit of the home. 
  • A fire inspection. 
  • A well inspection, if applicable. 
  • Medical statements completed by a physician for the applicants only.
  • At least three references. 
  • Interviews with any adult children.
  • Assessment of income and assets.

Length of the Approval process

In Kinship care the approval process tends to be a little quicker, averaging about 30 days. In emergency situations, children can be placed with a relative more quickly, prior to the approval process, as long as there are no safety concerns.

In traditional foster care, the approval process to become a foster parent can typically take 3-6 months. This will depend on the agency’s workload and training schedules. Benchmark Family Services offers in-person and are often able to license foster homes in 45 days.

Application Financial Responsibility

A kinship caregiver may be required to pay for any background checks required. This is usually a minimal cost of around $50. There aren’t usually any additional costs in being approved for kinship care.

When applying to become a foster parent you could be asked to cover the cost of background checks, fire inspections, well water tests, and medical tests, depending on the agency you work with. Benchmark Family Services provides new foster parents with a licensing bonus that usually exceeds these costs.

Financial Assistance

Kinship caregivers can receive  Kinship Support Program payments if a kinship child is placed in their home by a public children’s services agency with custody of the child. This will vary state by state. 

Foster parents receive per diem payments for each child in foster care placed in their home. Daily rates vary by county, agency, children’s ages, and their special needs. Benchmark Family Services always pays foster parents the highest rate in their region.

Kinship and Foster Care Training at Benchmark Family Services

Both kinship and foster care provide valuable care and support to children who need it most. These roles are essential and must be filled. If you are considering becoming a foster parent please contact our team at Benchmark Family Services to learn more about qualifications, training, and resources.