September is…Kinship Month

What is Kinship Care?

Kinship care is a term defined in the Code of Virginia as “the full time care, nurturing and protection of children by relatives.”

Informal Kinship Care

Informal Kinship Care refers to an arrangement made by parents or other family members without any involvement from the court or child welfare system.

Formal Kinship Care

Formal Kinship Care is when legal custody is granted by a formal order of Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court Judge to the kinship care provider or the local Department of Social Services. If the Department has legal custody of the child, the child is in Foster Care.

When the child is removed and placed into Foster Care, the agency may place the child with a relative or non-relative approved foster family. Once a child enters Foster Care, they can only be in an approved foster care placement. Relatives wanting to become a Foster Care placement option for a child in care should contact the Department of Social Services to begin the approval process.

In addition to working a Return Home or “Reunification” goal with the birth parents, Virginia law requires agencies to consider relatives as a short term or permanent placement option.

Why is Kinship Care so Important?

When children are placed in Kinship Care, they experience greater continuity of care and family preservation. Children living with kin have a greater sense of permanency, nurturing, safety and well-being. Kinship care also provides an opportunity to continue family connections, culture, traditions, values and goals.