Most children in foster care are placed into the homes of strangers, not relatives. But when possible, research suggests kinship care can have major benefits for kids. For example, it can help reduce behavioral issues.
Democratic Delegate Karrie Delaney used to work in a group home for girls in foster care.
“It’s always better – it’s a best practice in child welfare – to look for family members," Delaney said. "They’re familiar with that child first. It’s going to reduce trauma to the child, it’s going to create an easier transition for that child.”
A few bills before the General Assembly – including one sponsored by Delaney - would create a program called KinGAP. That stands for Kinship Guardian Assistance Program – and would provide financial assistance to relatives of kids in foster care for taking them in.
The kids eligible for the program aren’t being considered for adoption, or reunification with their birth family – and are usually older.
“So it's not a situation where a family member would be asking for a relative to take their child,” said Allison Gilbreath with Voices for Virginia’s Children.