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HHS Secretary Becerra Announces Michigan as First State to Implement Kinship Care Rule

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Leads the way in transforming kinship care practices for underserved communities

Today, Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra announces approval for Michigan to become the first state to implement separate licensing standards for kin caregivers. Michigan is the first state approved following the Salt River Pima Tribe in Arizona. Last September, HHS finalized a new regulation that allows a child welfare agency to adopt simpler licensing or approval standards for all kin foster family homes as well as requiring that states provide kin caregivers with the same level of financial assistance that any other foster care provider receives. This rule and approval of state’s and jurisdiction’s plans, fulfill executive orders by President Biden and align with the administration’s priorities to keep families together and increase equity in the child welfare system.

“It is often grandparents who step up to care for a grandchild when that child’s parent can’t. We must be partners with those grandparents and support their commitment to care for the child while a parent gets back on their feet, so more children don’t end up in foster care,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Michigan’s robust support for kin caregivers has made it a national leader. The approval of Michigan’s plan means more kin caregivers will receive the financial support they deserve when caring for family members.”

Encouraging and helping kin caregivers become licensed or approved foster caregivers is beneficial to both the child and the kin providing foster care. Previously, federal regulations made it harder for family members like grandparents, aunts, and uncles to become caregivers when a child in their family entered foster care as all foster family homes were required to meet the same licensing standards, regardless of whether the foster family home was a kin or non-kin placement. The new rule makes it possible for kin to more readily become licensed or approved, and more quickly receive services and funding for children in kinship foster care, ensuring that during times of family crisis children and caregivers receive assistance sooner.

“When times are tough, many of us turn to family for help,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for ACF, performing the delegable duties of the Assistant Secretary for Children and Families, Jeff Hild. “ACF understands grandparents and other kin who are raising children in safe, loving homes deserve support and we applaud Michigan for developing licensing standards that reflect the unique needs and strengths of kin caregivers.”

“Supporting kin caregivers is critical to whole family well-being and we are excited to support Michigan as the first state to implement the rule,” said Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Rebecca Jones Gaston. “This is a profound acknowledgement of the critical role family connections play in ensuring a child’s safety, stability and emotional growth.”

“Michigan has long recognized the value of kin caregivers and we are excited to be the first state in the country to have an approved licensing standard for kin,” said Elizabeth Hertel, Director, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “It is often grandparents and other family members who step in to provide a loving home when parents are unable to do so and they must be supported.”

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