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Kinship Care Versus Foster Care

Differences in requirements for Kinship Vs. Foster Care

Kinship caregivers are able to apply to become foster parents and complete the homestudy process.

Kinship  Foster Care
Kinship caregivers undergo a “home assessment” and “approval” process. Foster parents undergo a more detailed “homestudy” and “certification” process.

The home assessment includes the following:

  • At least one home visit and interviews.
  • Criminal background checks.
  • Child abuse and neglect checks.
  • A basic safety check of the home, including a review of the following:
    • Cleanliness of the home.
    • Absence of hazardous conditions inside and outside.
    • Safe storing of poisonous or other dangerous materials.
    • Proper heating, lighting, and ventilation.
    • Condition of plumbing and toilet facilities.
    • Working smoke alarms.
    • Safe storing of weapons. 
    • Adequacy of the child's bedding. 
    • Availability of a working telephone.
  • An exploration of the caregiver's willingness and ability to care for the child. 
  • Information for the caregiver about financial resources that may be available.  Financial Assistance | Foster Care and Adoption in Ohio

The homestudy and certification process includes the same activities as for kinship approval but with the following additional requirements:

  • Additional home visits, as necessary.
  • A more thorough safety audit of the home. 
  • A fire inspection. 
  • A well inspection, if applicable. 
  • Medical statements completed by a physician for the applicants only.
  • At least three references. 
  • Interviews with any adult children. 
  • Assessment of income and assets. 

Some non-safety foster care certification requirements may be waived on a case-by-case basis for kinship caregivers who wish to become certified foster parents for specific children in their care.  For example, the number of required references and interviews with adult children may be waived.  

There are no training requirements for kinship caregivers. However, kinship caregivers can attend trainings after the approval process, if they want to learn more about caring for the special needs of their kin child.

Foster caregivers are required to complete preservice training prior to certification. They must complete additional training hours every two years, depending on the type of certificate they hold. 

Preservice and ongoing training hour requirements may be waived on a case-by-case basis for kinship caregivers who wish to become certified foster parents for specific kinship children in their care.  

It can take 30 days or more for the approval process to be completed. In emergency situations children can be placed with a relative more quickly, prior to the approval process, as long as there are no safety concerns. The foster care certification process typically takes three to six months, depending on the agency's workload and training schedules.  However, kinship caregivers may qualify for training waivers, which should reduce the time it takes them to become certified.  
The kinship caregiver may need to pay for required background checks (usually about $50 total).  Other than that, there are no costs for being assessed and approved as a kinship caregiver Applicants are sometimes required to pay for required background checks, fire inspections, well water tests, and any amounts their doctor may charge to complete a medical statement for the applicants.
Kinship caregivers may receive Kinship Support Program payments if a kinship child is placed in their home by an Ohio public children services agency with custody of the child.  Payments are $10.80 per day per approved kinship placement for up to six months.  For kinship placements where the child is not in the custody of an Ohio public children services agency, kinship caregivers may be eligible for Ohio Works First “child-only” monthly benefits for the child. Child-only benefits are based on how many kinship children are in the home.  Effective January 1, 2022, child-only benefits are equal to $324 for the first child, $442 for two children, $542 for three children, etc.   Foster parents receive per diem payments for each child in foster care placed in their home. Daily rates vary by county, agency, children's ages, and their special needs.  
Children who are in the custody of a public children services agency and who are placed in a kinship home receive Medicaid. Children who receive Ohio Works First child-only benefits are also eligible for Medicaid. Children who are in the custody of a public children services agency and placed in certified foster homes receive Medicaid.
A kinship home is assessed and approved for a specific child. If a kinship caregiver is approved for one child, and another child is placed at a later date, the PCSA is required to complete another home assessment that takes the new child into consideration. Foster parents are certified to care for multiple children. They must be recertified every two years and whenever their household experiences a significant change, such as a move or new household member.