CCFY Co-Chairs Introduce Legislation To Develop And Enhance Kinship Navigator Programs

Sep 17, 2019

WASHINGTON – Today, Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth, introduced the Supporting Kinship Connections Act, which would provide grants to states, tribes (including tribal consortia), territories or community-based organizations to develop, enhance, and evaluate Kinship Navigator programs.

Kinship Navigator programs support family caregivers through complex legal and administrative systems, help avert crises, prevent multiple child placements, and avoid the need for more costly services. Kinship placements often do not get the same support as foster care placements, making these kinship navigator networks invaluable to people caring for children for either the first time or the first time in many years.

“With the rise of substance abuse highlighted by the opioid epidemic, more and more kinship caregivers are stepping up to raise children in need of temporary care or permanent homes,” said Rep. Bass. “This is happening in every state and every county in the United States. While we work to address this immediate epidemic, our child welfare systems are being overwhelmed. Kinship caregivers need support and this bill will help provide the assistance necessary to creating a stable home and environment for the child. I hope Congress can come together on this bipartisan issue to stand up for our kinship caregivers and our nation’s most vulnerable youth.”

The bill will allow community-based organizations to apply directly to the Department of Health and Human Services for funding and requires program evaluations that include community perspectives. You can read the full bill here.

Why Kinship Care Matters:

Research demonstrates that children in kinship care are less likely to experience numerous different placements with different families. Kinship care results in better outcomes for all children living in out-of-home care because they are more likely to remain in their same neighborhood, in the same educational setting, be placed with siblings, and have consistent contact with their birth parents than other children in foster care. This is one critical piece in improving outcomes for the children in the child welfare system.

Rep. Bass has also introduced legislation to designate September as “National Kinship Care Month”. Read about that effort here.