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The Process for Becoming a Kinship Caregiver

When children can't safely remain with their parents, the county public children services agency first looks for kinship caregivers who can care for the child.  When a children services agency is considering placing a child in your home, the caseworker will conduct a "kinship home assessment" to determine if you are willing and able to care for the child. This assessment may be completed before the child comes to live with you, or it may begin after a child is placed with you on an emergency basis.  Your county children services agency will be your main point of contact throughout the process.  

Initially, the agency will obtain custody of the child and contact you. If you know that a child you’re close to is in a county agency's custody, but you have not been informed, please reach out to the agency. For more information on working with a children services agency, read more here.

Collect Identifying Information

The first step to becoming a kinship caregiver is for the county agency to collect information from you and other household members. This includes your legal name, Social Security number, address, employment information, and more. The agency will perform a search of the state’s information system to check for any past involvement with children services. If anyone has previous cases or involvement with a children services agency, the agency will want to discuss that with you. You and other adult members of the household will also be required to submit fingerprints for criminal background checks.

Conduct Home Assessment

A caseworker will interview the adult members of the household to assess their willingness and ability to care for the child. The caseworker will also observe the home environment to ensure it is safe for the child to reside there. A home assessment checks all of the following:

  • Cleanliness of the home.
  • Absence of hazardous conditions inside and outside.
  • Safe storage of poisonous and otherwise dangerous or combustible materials.
  • Proper heating, lighting, and ventilation.
  • Condition of plumbing and toilet facilities.
  • Installation of a working smoke alarm on each level of occupancy of the home
  • Safe storing of weapons, including firearms and ammunition, in inoperative condition and in a secured and locked area.
  • Ensure the child’s bedding is adequate and appropriate to his or her needs.
  • Availability of a working telephone within the home or reasonable access to a working telephone for emergency situations.

Provide Updated Information about the Child

The caseworker will give you updated information about the child’s background and current status. This will include educational, medical, and developmental information, as well as how to access any needed support services.

Provide Support Services Information

The caseworker will give you information to help with your transition.  This may include information about the following: 

  • The Kinship Support Program.
  • How to apply for Ohio Works First child-only financial assistance and Medicaid.
  • The difference between a Kinship Support Program payment, an Ohio Works First child-only payment, and a foster care per diem payment. 
  • Becoming a certified foster caregiver, the adoption approval process, and how those requirements differ from kinship caregiver requirements.  
  • Differences in support services available to kinship caregivers, foster caregivers, and adoptive parents. 
  • How to apply for certification as a foster caregiver, including the potential for requesting waivers of non-safety requirements.  Read more about How to Become a Foster Parent