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LETTER: Kinship placements should be funded same as foster care

LETTER: Kinship placements should be funded same as foster care

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Fund kinship placements same as foster care

Family placements for children in foster care, also referred to as kinship placements, have been shown to be effective in reducing behavioral problems in children, decreasing the likelihood of foster placement disruptions, and preserving a child’s cultural identity.

If we know the benefits of kinship care for youth in foster care, then why does Virginia consistently rank last in the nation for kinship placements?

The reason isn’t for a lack of kinship interest or support for these children, but rather for a lack of financial assistance and guidance provided for kinship caregivers. Reports indicate that kinship caregivers often have lower incomes than foster and adoptive parents, and many are also grandparents, with around 40 percent living below the poverty level.

As parents and caregivers of all types know, raising a child is expensive. Food, clothing, extracurricular activities, school supplies and other expenses add up. For families already dealing with financial insecurity, adding another child to the mix may not be an option without support.

Kinship caregivers need to be provided with the same access to funding and resources as those we provide to traditional foster parents. While the passing of SB 1328 for State-Funded Kinship Guardianship Assistance during the 2021 Virginia General Assembly is a start, this bill leaves out many children who could benefit from a relative placement and limits funding for kinship providers to room and board expenses.

With only 7 percent of children in foster care in Virginia placed with relatives as compared to the national average of 32 percent, the commonwealth needs to prioritize support and funding for kinship placements. Doing so is an investment in the well-being and permanency of our foster care youth.

Erin Halpin

Stafford

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