Child welfare agencies across the country rely on grandparents and other relatives to care for children who cannot remain safely with their parents. This report explores the practice of "kinship diversion" in which children are placed with relatives as an alternative to foster care. Different perspectives about whether kinship diversion is a good or bad practice are offered. The report concludes that child welfare agencies should more thoroughly explore their kinship diversion practices to ensure they adequately meet the needs of children, their parents and kinship caregivers.
Little is currently understood about the kinship diversion practice
Findings & Stats
The Middle Ground Approach
There is a possible middle ground approach to the kinship diversion debate that requires child welfare agencies to consider the needs of children, parents and their caregivers to arrive at the best possible decision about the legal status of children in kinship families.
Supported Diversion Approach
A "supported diversion approach" includes the following core components: 1) appropriate risk assessment; 2) facilitated team decision making and full disclosure of options; and 3) appropriate needs assessment and services for the kinship triad.
Supported Diversion Approach 2
A "supported diversion approach" also includes: 1) a "way home" for birth parents; 2) caregiver legal status and permanency considerations; and 3) appropriate tracking of diverted children and families.
Diversion critics maintain that families are best served when children are brought into state custody and their relative caregivers are licensed as foster parents.
Statements & Quotations
Families should have the option to come into the system if it's needed, but we should work hard to build more organic and tailored support services outside the system as well.
While several jurisdictions seem to offer promising approaches to help families navigate kinship diversion, we have not yet found a supported diversion model that's comprehensive enough to test and evaluate.