April 18,2023

Press Contact:

Nicole L’Esperance (Wyden) / Amanda Critchfield (Crapo)

Wyden, Crapo Applaud Proposed HHS Rule That Reduces Barriers to Kinship Foster Care Placement

Washington, D.C. – Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, today expressed support for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Administration for Children and Families (ACF) proposed rule that would reduce barriers to kinship foster placement and ease the financial burdens on kin caregivers. 

“We write to express support for the proposed rule entitled Proposed Separate Licensing Standards for Relative or Kinship Foster Family Homes. We appreciate that the proposed rule would align federal regulations with Congressional intent by reducing barriers to kinship foster care placement, which would provide more opportunities for vulnerable children and youth to be cared for by the people who know and love them. By allowing states and tribes the flexibility to create distinct kin-specific licensing and approval standards, this rule will ease the burdens on kin caregivers, improve outcomes for families, and make it easier for states and tribes to place children in homes where they can thrive,” Wyden and Crapo wrote in a letter to Rebecca Jones Gaston, HHS Commissioner for the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families. 

The proposed rule would empower states and tribes to set separate licensing standards for relative and kin caregivers under the Foster Care, Prevention and Permanency Program that acknowledge unique strengths and challenges experienced by kinship caregivers. This change would make it easier to license kinship and family caregivers as foster parents, while still maintaining important safety standards, such as background checks, as a condition of licensing. 

Additionally, the proposed rule would ensure that states and tribes are able to provide kin caregivers with a streamlined path to receiving the same supports, via Title IV-E foster maintenance payments, and services that are afforded to non-relative caregivers. This will help to close the resource gap between licensed kinship caregivers and non-relative foster parents. 

“As Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Finance, we are dedicated to ensuring that our most vulnerable children have every chance of success and that they are able to grow up in safe, stable, loving homes,” Wyden and Crapo concluded the letter.

The Senate Committee on Finance has played a leading role in the enactment of bipartisan policies to support kinship care, including through the passage of the Families First Prevention Services Act and the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act. Both laws aimed to ensure more children could grow and develop to their full potential in safe, stable, and loving kin homes. The proposed HHS rule continues the Finance Committee’s work. 

The text of the letter is here.