November 16, 2017

Kinship Care Legal Reform

FEBRUARY 1999

RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association encourages states and territories to establish guidelines for courts, child welfare service agencies, and participating attorneys to follow when abused, neglected, and abandoned children are placed in kinship care, and for use in the provision of services to kinship providers for such children, based upon the following:

1. Conducting an aggressive search for maternal and paternal kin and consider kinship placements as early as possible after the child becomes known to the child welfare agency and/or the court;

2. Carefully screening potential kinship providers before any kinship placement, just as agencies do with potential foster parents;

3. Thoroughly educating kinship providers regarding current and future social and custodial expectations, and the legal permanency possibilities of the placement which include subsidized adoption and subsidized legal guardianship;

4. Providing notice to and the opportunity for kinship providers to participate in the legal/judicial process, and help them to obtain legal representation;

5. Providing financial support, child health and mental health care coverage, other government assistance, and other resources to kinship providers throughout the term of the placement, including aid and services after a permanent placement is legally finalized; and

6. Encouraging state, local, and territorial governments to enact medical consent, standby guardianship, subsidized permanent guardianship, and open (cooperative) adoption laws.

FURTHER RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association encourages state, local and territorial bar associations to develop and support pro bono and low-cost legal services projects for kinship care providers, whether the providers have been involved with a child welfare agency or have otherwise assumed care of the child.