The process for becoming a kinship caregiver is quite quicker than a traditional foster or adoption placement. The public children service agency in your county will be your main point of contact throughout the process.
Initially, the public children services agency (PCSA) will obtain custody of the child and contact you. If you know that a child you’re close to is in custody but have yet to be informed, please reach out to your local agency. For more information on working with a PCSA, read more here.
Collect Identifying Information
The first step to becoming a kinship caregiver is for the PCSA to collect identifying information from the prospective caregiver as well as all household members. This includes legal name, social security number, address, employment information, and more. The PCSA 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 PCSA, the agency will want to discuss that with you. The prospective caregiver and all adult members of the household will also be required to submit fingerprints for the agency to conduct BCI and FBI criminal background checks.
Conduct Home Assessment
A caseworker will conduct interviews with adult members of the household to assess the willingness and ability to provide care and supervision of the child. The caseworker will also observe the home environment to ensure that the home 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.
Give Caregiver Background and Updated Information on the Child
The caseworker will provide the prospective caregiver 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 Caregiver with Support Services Information
The caseworker will provide the prospective kinship caregiver with information and support to help with their transition. These may include:
- How to apply for Ohio Works First (OWF) child-only financial assistance and Medicaid coverage.
- The difference in payment between an OWF child-only payment and the foster care per diem.
- The requirements for foster caregiver certification and adoption approval, including how those requirements differ from the kinship caregiver requirements.
- The difference, if any, in the eligibility of supportive services for kinship care in comparison to foster care and adoption.
- How to apply for certification as a foster caregiver. Read more about How to Become a Foster Parent