Michigan Leads the Way in Kinship Care: A Breakthrough for Our Families and Child Protection

In a groundbreaking move, Michigan has become the first state to implement a new rule transforming kinship care practices. This rule permits states to develop an alternative path for approving kinship caregivers while receiving federal money to support these placements. Let’s delve into the details of this significant development.

The Kinship Care Revolution

Prominent child welfare researcher Mark Testa aptly described it as “the most important advance the federal government has made in kinship care policy in the last 40 years.” Advocates for kinship care quickly developed model practices for states and tribes to adopt.

Late last month, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that Michigan, along with the Salt River Pima Tribe of Arizona, has approved its alternative path to licensing. This milestone marks a vital step for kinship caregivers across the nation.

Grandparents as Unsung Heroes

“It is often grandparents who step up to care for a grandchild when that child’s parent can’t,” emphasized Federal DHHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. Recognizing their vital role, he continued, “We must be partners with those grandparents and support their commitment to care for the child while a parent gets back on their feet, so more children don’t end up in foster care.” Michigan’s new robust support for kin caregivers has positioned it as a national leader in this critical area.

The Power of Family

Keeping children within their extended families has long been a goal of Michigan’s child welfare system. Kin can become licensed foster parents; every state has some pathway for informal placements with relatives. However, the game-changer lies in the kin-specific process for licensing that was approved by the federal government. Now, states can tap into the Title IV-E entitlement, providing much-needed financial assistance for kin placements in the Great Lakes State. This new rule codifies an important decision by our federal 6th Circuit in the case of D. O. versus Glisson which originated in Kentucky. There, the appellate federal court ruled that support payment must be paid to caregivers, even when the caregivers are kin to the children. 

The CPS attorneys at The Kronzek Firm applaud the court for its ruling in furtherance of preserving families and assisting children that have been removed from their homes.