When a parent cannot take care of his or her children, the state will step in and look for somewhere in which to place them. Ideally, the state wants to place kids with other family members.
According to the Washington State Department of Children, Youth & Families, if you take in a relative’s child, you become a kinship care provider.
If you have a close relationship with the child, such as being an aunt, uncle or grandparent, you will not need a license. Other relatives may need to secure a license.
Regardless of your relationship, you will have to go through a background check. This will include a criminal check on anyone who is 16 years old or older who lives in the home, a home inspection for safety and health and a review of your living arrangements.
The state will also create a care plan for the child. You must agree to and follow this plan.
As a kinship care provider, your responsibility is to provide a caring, safe and healthy home for the child. You must make sure he or she attends school, provide proper supervision, ensure he or she receives proper medical care and nurture the child’s mental health. You must cooperate with the court or the state in any and all requirements, such as court dates or visitation agreements.
You will have help as a kinship care provider. You may be able to get help with expenses and food through state programs. The child may qualify for state medical insurance. You will have access to programs for mental health as well. The state may offer other programs, such as vouchers for transportation costs, clothing and child care.
Being a kinship care provider allows you to ensure your family member is in a loving home with people he or she knows.