Kinship (Relative) Care
Kinship care is when a relative or other adult (fictive kin) who has a bond with the child agrees to provide full-time care, nurturing, and protection for the child who has been removed from their parents due to neglect, abuse, death, or another traumatic situation where the Child Welfare Agency is involved. Kinship care is very important in supporting children to remain in a loving family environment.
We recognize that when children must be removed from their parents and enter into foster care, living with and being cared for by a relative is better for the children than if they were sent to live with strangers in a licensed family foster home.
Kinship Care arrangements fall into three categories:
- Formal care, where a Child Welfare Agency has legal custody, and a child lives with relatives or fictive kin in a foster care arrangement. In Nevada, the resources available to formal kinship families include those offered to traditional foster parents, if the kinship family chooses to get licensed.
- Voluntary or informal care, where the Child Welfare Agency is involved, but does not have formal legal custody of the child. This describes relatives who were asked to take legal custody by the Child Welfare Agency to prevent the child from entering the foster care system.
- Private care, placements made by a relative without Child Welfare involvement. These placements represent the largest number of kinship care arrangements. Private kinship placements include guardianship or other custody granted through the courts (independent of child welfare involvement), temporary guardianship and physical custody only.
Benefits of Kinship Care
Kinship care is the oldest form of family preservation and an important safety net for children whose parents are either unable or unwilling to care for them. By maintaining family, cultural or community ties, Kinship Care helps children through the experience of being away from the family home. Additional benefits of Kindship Care are:
- Enables children to live with people they already know and trust and supports building healthy relationships that are essential to well-being.
- Creates greater stability for children than in other out-of-home care arrangements, increasing permanency.
- Provides a higher likelihood siblings will remain together and promotes sibling ties.
- Provides love and care in a family setting and allows children to continue their family traditions and make new memories.
- Provides parents with a sense of hope that children will remain connected to their extended families.
- Promotes preservation of cultural identity and community connections. Improves behavioral and mental health outcomes by minimizing trauma, supporting the children’s need for safety, improving the children’s well-being, and encouraging positive self-esteem. Provides a bridge for older youth and increases their ability to maintain long lasting connections into adulthood.
Kinship Care: Licensed vs. Unlicensed
Kinship foster caregivers can be licensed or unlicensed. During the period relatives are unlicensed, they receive significantly lower reimbursements for costs than licensed foster parents. The Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) strongly encourages all family members proving relative foster care to become licensed foster parents. For licensed kinship foster caregivers there are many additional supports available, but licensure may not be the best plan for everyone and should be an individual decision. Talking things over with the Agency licensing worker may be helpful in making the decision. If you both agree that licensing is a good idea for your particular situation, review the qualifications for licensing below.
When you become a licensed foster family home, you will be paid the full foster care rate. There are advantages and benefits to becoming a licensed relative caregiver. As a licensed kinship foster caregiver you will:
- Receive the foster care rate for each child placed in your care, to help pay the additional costs of having the child in your family.
- Have a licensing worker to assist you and provide support.
- Be provided ongoing services which could include respite care, which is special childcare so you can have a break for yourself and/or your own family.
- Be provided initial and ongoing training to help you understand and handle the child’s behaviors that may come up because of the trauma they have suffered or due to other special needs.
- Be provided information that will help you understand the court system, which is now a big part of the lives of the children and your family.
- Be provided with support groups and mentors, people you can talk to who are experienced licensed caregivers and can “show you the ropes.”
- Becoming a licensed caregiver does not mean you will be required to care for other children not related to you. However, if you choose to, you may be eligible to have other children placed in your home.
The Licensing Process
The foster home licensing process takes approximately three to six months. The length of time depends on the length of time it takes to complete the home inspection and background checks, the cooperation of family members, and how soon the required information is provided to and processed by the Agency.
To become a licensed foster home, you must complete and submit an application for licensure. A foster home license certifies that you have met the standards set forth in the Nevada Revised Statue (NRS 424) and Nevada Administrative Code (NAC 424.165) requirements which include:
- Be fingerprinted for a criminal history records check and get a fingerprint clearance card (this applies to everyone 18 and older living in your home), pursuant to NRS 424.033.
- Must have CPS clearance for any history of abuse and neglect, including everyone 18 and older living in your home, pursuant to NRS 432B.594.
- Must work with a foster home licensing worker to complete at least one visit to the family home to determine that the home is safe and complete the initial home study.
- Must submit a completed and signed foster home application to the Agency.
- Provide five names and contact information for personal references.
- Must complete foster parent orientation and pre-service training sessions, specified in subsections 1, 2 and 5 of NAC 424.270.
Additional considerations include:
- Can be single or married (if married, your spouse must also apply to get licensed).
- Can be employed full or part-time.
- Be a legal resident of the United States.
- Own, lease or rent your home, mobile home, apartment, condominium, or townhouse.
- Meet health and safety requirements and correct any problems found during the inspection of your home.
- Have transportation available and a means of communication with emergency services, the Agency worker, police, etc.
- Have a bed and adequate bedroom space for each household member and foster child.
- Be in good general health.
- Must have adequate income to take care of your own family’s needs (aside from the children in care).
- Must abide by the Agency’s discipline regulations and comply with all licensing rules.
Your licensing worker can request waivers for non-safety licensing standards on a case-by-case basis. This means that relatives and fictive kin do not always have to meet certain standards (such as space accommodations) that are applied to other licensed foster caregivers. Certain standards about criminal and CPS histories or the legal residency of the caregiver and other persons residing in the home cannot be waived.
Let your Agency licensing worker know that you are interested in becoming licensed. Your licensing Agency will work with you to find when the next orientation session is being held in your area. Some orientation sessions have childcare available.
The basic requirements to become an unlicensed kinship foster caregiver are as follows:
- Be at least 21 years old;
- Can be single or married;
- Be fingerprinted for a criminal history records check and get a fingerprint clearance card (this applies to everyone 18 and older living in your home);
- Must have CPS clearance for any history of abuse and neglect, including everyone 18 and older living in your home.
- Be in good general health; and
- Must work with a foster home licensing worker to complete and initial home inspection.
Expectations for Kinship Caregivers
If there is a record of a serious crime(s) for any adult living in the home, you may not be able to be a kinship foster caregiver as long as that person lives in your home. If you or any adult living in your home has been convicted of, is awaiting trial, or ever committed crimes against children or vulnerable adults, serious violent crimes, arson, felony substance misuse offenses within the past 7 years, kidnapping or robbery, you should discuss the exact nature of the crime with your licensing worker. Some crimes will prevent you from being able to be a kinship foster caregiver and some crimes will not.
Someone representing the Agency will come to your home to see if the area is clean and safe for children. That person will talk with you and everyone else who lives in the home and will also contact the people you gave as personal references. After visiting your home, the Agency worker will write up the information in a home study. The home study will include:
- The safety of your home for the children to live there;
- How you can meet the needs of the children;
- How you discipline children;
- Others who live in your home and how they feel about the children moving in;
- How you care for the family already living with you; and
- Your physical health (because you have to be healthy enough to care for the children).
As a kinship caregiver you are expected to provide for the care and supervision of the children in the same manner as you are responsible for your own children. Additionally, you will have the following responsibilities:
- Make a commitment to provide a safe home for the child.
- Support the goals of the case plan for the child and provide services for the child as outlined in the child’s plan.
- You will be expected to cooperate with the Agency in allowing visits (both scheduled and unscheduled) to your home from the Agency worker.
- Maintain such confidentiality as is required by Nevada law regarding information relating to the foster children and their families. This includes not sharing information with other family members. Your child’s foster care worker will advise you what information may be shared with professionals working with the child.
- When safe and appropriate, work directly with the parents or other family members of a child in support of the best interests of the child and the permanency goal of the child.
- Use non-physical, age-appropriate discipline pursuant to NAC 424.530. Physical discipline, such as spanking or forcing a child to eat or hold hot sauce or soap in their mouth, is not permitted.
- Assist the foster care worker to ensure that the child receives regular medical and dental care, immunizations, therapy and other required services.
- You must follow through with any recommendations regarding medications or counseling services arranged for the children.
- Enroll the child in school, if a change of school is needed. You should provide the Agency with any important education-related information including grades, any testing completed for special education services, the results of the tests and any recommendations that are made.
- Report the child’s progress and concerns to the foster care worker and be available for scheduled home visits by the foster care worker.
- Attend court hearings and family team meetings. At these meetings, services, placement and case plans for the children and family will be discussed. You can voice your opinion as well as provide information about the children.
- Provide transportation for the children to some appointments ensure that the child is provided with ongoing visitation and contact with siblings or other family members. The Agency will also be able to help.
- The child is entitled to visits with his or her parents, siblings and other family members as determined by the court and the child’s service plan. It is very important that you follow the instructions of the court and the service plan regarding supervised and unsupervised visits with parents, siblings and other relatives. There are serious potential consequences for both you and the child’s parents if those directions aren’t followed.
Child Permanency Options
Every child needs the stability and security offered by a permanent home in order to thrive and develop into a caring, competent adult. Whether or not you become licensed, you may also be interested in discussing other permanency alternatives with the Agency if, after some time, the plan for the child does not involve a return to his or her home.
Sometimes the parents do not make the changes necessary for their home to be safe and nurturing for their children. Federal law gives the parents about 12 to 18 months to make changes. If the parents do not make the necessary changes, the Agency needs to identify either your home as a permanent home or find another permanent home for the children. Federal law states that grandparents and other relatives must be considered first to provide permanency. If no relatives are willing or able to provide permanency for the children through adoption or guardianship, then adoption or guardianship by non-relatives may be pursued. Permanency decisions are serious and often difficult decisions made by the child and family team (of which you as a kinship foster caregiver are a member) and the court. It is important that you understand what permanency is and the legal permanency choices that may be available to you. Discuss this with your Agency worker so you will be prepared and not surprised if these decisions must be made.
If you are a kinship caregiver and the parent’s rights have been terminated, the child can be adopted. You may have the option to adopt, pursue another form of legal custody such as KinGAP, or another family member or friend can adopt, or the child can be adopted by an outside family.
For children who cannot return to their parents, adoption is the most permanent plan. Relative adoption is an option for anyone related to a child available for adoption (like a grandparent, aunt, uncle, or cousin). The relative becomes the legal parent and accepts all parenting and legal responsibilities and obligations connected to raising the child to adulthood; the biological parent, whether they remain actively involved in the child’s life or not, waives all legal rights to the child. Additionally, you may be eligible to apply for an adoption subsidy for a child you are adopting, and it may include a monthly maintenance payment. The amount of the payment is based on the special needs of the child, but it cannot be more than the foster care rate. The adoption subsidy must be approved before the adoption is final.
Guardianship is an option when returning to the birth parents or adoption are not in the best interests of the child. A guardianship of the child allows the legal guardian the ability to make legal decisions regarding schooling, medical care, religion and other aspects of day-to-day life. Outside of adoption, guardianship is the safest, most stable arrangement for a relative raising a child. It is the legal transfer of legal and physical custody to someone other than a parent.
Guardianship does not terminate parental rights, but it does suspend them. The advantage to guardianship is control. It grants the guardian the legal authority to enroll the child in school, consent to medical treatment, living situations (within the state), and make many other decisions. Your Agency worker will help you identify if you are eligible for a KinGAP subsidy and help you apply for this subsidy.
Support and Services
Children come to you in a time of crisis, and your life has been changed. You will likely need support for both yourself and the children as you face the challenges ahead. There are a number of services that can be provided to both licensed and unlicensed kinship caregivers depending on your situation and the needs of the children in your care.
Support and Services could include:
- Parenting skills training
- Behavioral/Mental health services for the children, and possibly yourself.
- Agency assisted transportation to help you keep medical and other appointments for the children, when available.
- Referrals to community programs for kinship caregivers providing emotional support, mentoring, practical and legal advice or wellness activities for you, and other programs for the children.
- Respite to provide care for the children ranging from a few hours to overnight and weekends. This allows you to have a break when needed, discuss your options with your Agency.
Kinship Navigator Program
Many individuals who step in to raise their relative’s children are unprepared. You may lack the short-term financial ability, an understanding of the educational, medical, and legal systems you will be required to navigate for the child or the knowledge of your options.
The Kinship Navigator Program is designed to increase kinship caregivers’ capacity to provide safe, stable, and nurturing homes for children. The Kinship Navigator Program provides free services available to anyone parenting a relative or fictive kin’s child in Nevada and helps to address the immediate needs of kinship children, working towards the most permanent legal status for the family, ensuring families receive financial support and increasing the quality of parenting kinship caregivers provide. For additional information on the Kinship Navigator Program visit:
The Kinship Resource Center can be accessed in Southern and Northern Nevada at:
|Southern Nevada Kinship Center:
|| Northern Nevada Kinship Center:
|Location: 3925 W Cheyenne, Suite 401,
North Las Vegas, NV 89032
||Location: 1 E Liberty, Suite 600,
Reno, NV 89501
|Hours: Monday-Thursday 9 AM-6:30 PM;
Friday-Saturday 9 AM- 4 PM
||Hours: Monday-Thursday 9 AM- 4 PM
Appointments are required and can be in person or remote.
Kinship Helpline – (844)-810-1667: help to answer your basic kinship questions, refer you to resources, and set up an appointment with a Foster Kinship Family Advocate for a family evaluation and additional services.
Helpline hours are Monday-Thursday 9 AM -6:30 PM; Friday-Saturday 9 AM-4:00 PM.
Quality Parenting Initiative (QPI) - Nevada
QPI is built on the belief that we must organize the Child Welfare System around a simple principle:
Every child deserves excellent parenting every day.
Children who enter foster care have had traumatic experiences far different from the experiences of ordinary childhood. They are removed from their parents, homes, and neighborhoods without understanding why or what happens next, sometimes losing meaningful connections to siblings and familiar adults. The best intervention we can offer children is excellent parenting with strong, positive relationships that enables the children to feel trust in their relationships with the adults in their lives
When QPI is successful, caregivers have a voice. Birth families and caregivers work together as a team with Agency staff and other stakeholders to develop and provide excellent parenting. Caregivers receive the support and training they need to work with the children and families, to understand what is expected of them, and to know what to expect from the Child Welfare Agency.
QPI is an approach adopted by a network of sites who share information and ideas about how to improve parenting as well as recruit and retain excellent foster families. The key elements of the QPI approach are:
- Defining the expectations of and by caregivers
- Clearly communicating these expectations to all staff, caregivers, and other stakeholders, and
- Aligning system policy and practice with those expectations
For additional information on the Quality Parenting Initiative (QPI) visit:
Kinship caregivers take in children during or after a family crisis and often need to develop new skills to effectively raise emotionally abused and neglected children. Caregivers may also need training and guidance on how to best work with the children’s parent(s) and navigate their family relationships.
Kinship caregivers have many concerns, including the following:
- Financial security
- Preparing their home for incoming children (e.g., additional furniture or expanded living space)
- Children’s behavioral and emotional needs from related trauma
- Decisions related to children’s education and health care
- Disruption in family relationships
- Affordable childcare and after-school care
- Interaction with the Child Welfare Agency.
QPI provides kinship caregivers with training and resources to address their needs and may benefit from tips on managing stress, personal health, and emotionally stability, community resources.
Additional information and resources can be found by visiting: