Uncles, Grandmas, Friends…

If you’re considering caring for a child you know who is in foster care (called “kinship care”), we’ve got some important resources for you to consider, each highlighted below-

  • Caring for a relative can be rewarding, and challenging, so please ask yourself the hard questions, beforehand.
  • If you’re selected to be the child’s caregiver, there are two paths: temporary custody and guardianship; and becoming a licensed foster parent. The path you take will be determined during your discussions with DCFS. If you’re not selected, we invite you to consider becoming a licensed foster parent for children not lucky enough to have kin able to take them in.
  • If the child resides out-of-state, there is a special process you must go through. If the child resides in Utah, Utah’s Division of Child & Family Services (DCFS) is the agency who decides where a child in foster care will be placed, so the first thing to do is contact the child’s caseworker at DCFS.
  • In Utah, there are some 84,000 children living with a relative with no involvement from the state whatsoever. If this is you, there are resources available for you, too!

Start Here…

Before you decide to become a caregiver for a child you know, there are some questions you need to ask yourself:

  • What is my relationship with the child’s parents?
  • Will I have family support?
  • Am I prepared to work with the child’s parents—and possibly their extended family?
  • How will this affect my relationship with the child’s parents and the extended family?
  • Will I be able to set limits with the child’s parents?
  • How will this impact my own children and spouse?
  • Do I understand the circumstances surrounding this child going to foster care?
  • How do I feel about those circumstances?
  • Will I be able to let this child go back home when the time comes?
  • How do I feel about adopting this child, if necessary?
  • Will I need financial assistance?
  • What are the child’s medical, dental, and emotional health needs
  • Do I know how will I access services to help the child meet these needs?
  • Considering your answers to these questions, your situation, and your own feelings will help you know if you are the right person to meet the needs of the child(ren) you want to help.

Remember: To become a licensed foster parent for a child you know (kinship), the child’s caseworker must initiate the licensing process for you. This is often misunderstood, and the caseworker may even tell you to contact us to be licensed—but the process must be initiated by the caseworker.

 

Temporary Custody & Guardianship

Having custody and guardianship of the child may give you some added independence in making decisions, but it also gives you more responsibility. For example, you will be responsible for making sure the child’s needs are met while in your care. This includes enrolling the child in school, arranging for counseling or other services the child might need, and providing for their medical and dental care.

If you are related to the child, you may qualify for a “Care of a Relative” grant at Utah’s Department of Workforce Services. This grant provides some financial and Medicaid assistance.

Even with temporary custody and guardianship, the court may have a caseworker from the Utah’s Division of Child & Family Services (DCFS) assigned to monitor the child’s case and see that the child is getting the services they need.

Licensed Foster Care

If you are a licensed foster parent, the child remains the legal responsibility of the state but is placed in your home. This means that you make most of the day-to-day decisions for the child. However, DCFS may involve themselves in certain decisions—such as which school the child attends or what services the child will receive.

Like all children in foster care, a DCFS caseworker is assigned to monitor the child’s welfare. Caseworkers are required to meet with you and the child regularly, oversee the child’s care and even help coordinate visits with the child’s birth parents (as appropriate). Licensed families receive the monthly reimbursement foster parents receive. The state is responsible for obtaining Medicaid for the child and to assist in accessing any specialized services and support needed. State health care professionals ensure that the child’s medical, dental, and mental health needs are met.


Remember: To become a licensed foster parent for a child you know (kinship), the child’s caseworker must initiate the licensing process for you. This is often misunderstood, and the caseworker may even tell you to contact us to be licensed—but the process must be initiated by the caseworker.

 

When the Child You Know isn’t in Utah

The process for becoming a foster parent for a child from another state is governed by a legal agreement between all states called the “Interstate Compact for Placement of Children”, or ICPC. According to this agreement, one state cannot send a child to another state without first receiving permission from the destination state. In order to receive permission, the child’s caseworker will first need to fill out the appropriate paperwork and make a request.

Families in Utah sometimes hear they must get a home study or become licensed before the caseworker will consider placing the child with them. However, the state of Utah will not complete a home study or license a family until the child’s caseworker has requested it through the formal ICPC process.

We encourage you to contact the Utah’s Division of Child & Family Services (DCFS) state offices at (801) 538-4100 and ask for the Interstate Compact Administrator.

 

When Your Family Needs a Little More…

These resources are reserved for families where the State has not taken custody of the child in question.

If you are related to the child, you may qualify for a “Care of a Relative” grant through the Utah Department of Workforce Services. This grant typically provides Medicaid coverage as well as a small stipend. Eligibility is based on your relationship to the child, not on financial hardship.

Some supports available for unlicensed kinship families differ from one part of the state to another. To find out what is available in your area, we suggest you call the local Utah Division of Child & Family Services (DCFS) office and speak with a kinship specialist. One example of a great local resource is GrandFamilies, a program provided by Children Service Society of Utah. Check their website to see the supports offered and whether they’re currently available in your area.