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Fostering Connections Act
On October 7, 2008, The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (Fostering Connections Act) unanimously became federal law. This Act is the most significant child welfare law in the last ten years. Among the many aspects of child welfare it affects the law impacts grandfamilies by:
  • Giving states the option to use funds through federal Title IV-E of the Social Security Act (Title IV-E) to finance guardianship assistance payments (GAP) that enable children in the care of grandparents and other relatives to exit foster care into permanent homes
  • Requiring child welfare agencies to make reasonable efforts to place siblings together, whether they are placed in foster care, kinship guardianship, or adoptive homes
  • Allowing siblings that are placed in the same home as a child eligible for Title IV-E guardianship payments to also receive support even if they are not otherwise eligible
  • Providing grants to establish kinship navigator programs that help link relative caregivers to a broad range of services and supports for them and the children they raise
  • Requiring that states identify and notify relatives when children enter foster care
  • Giving states the option to waive non-safety related licensing standards for relatives
Family Connection Grants
States are busy putting these provisions into action and more than a third of all states have now submitted a State Plan to the Children’s Bureau of the US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) saying they plan to operate GAP programs. In 2009, DHHS awarded the first round of Family Connection Grants to the following grantees.

Grantees establishing kinship navigator programs:
  • Aspiranet, Inc., South San Francisco, California (serving Los Angeles County)
  • Edgewood Center for Children and Families, San Francisco, California
  • Minnesota Kinship Caregivers Association, St. Paul, Minnesota
  • Public Children Services Association of Ohio, Columbus, Ohio
  • The Children’s Home Society of New Jersey, Trenton, New Jersey
  • YMCA of San Diego County, San Diego, California
Grantees offering services that include other elements in addition to kinship navigator programs:
  • Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Yakima, Richland, Washington
  • Lilliput Children’s Services, Sacramento, California
  • Department of Health & Human Services, Augusta, Maine
  • Maryland Department of Human Resources, Baltimore, Maryland
  • Oklahoma Department of Human Services, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • Rhode Island Foster Parents Association, East Providence, Rhode Island
  • South Carolina Department of Social Services, Columbia, South Carolina
Resources
The Administration for Children and Families
The Grandfamilies State Law and Policy Resource Center
The Fostering Connections Resource Center
Child Welfare Information Gateway

Publications
Judicial Guide to Implementing the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (PDF)
New Help for Children Raised by Grandparents and Other Relatives: Questions and Answers About the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (PDF)
Top 10 Tips for Relative Caregivers to Implement Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (PDF)
Relative Foster Care Licensing Waivers in States: Policies and Possibilities (PDF)
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