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Types of kinship care

While all the grandparents who attend the Kinship Care group are raising their grandchildren, some of them have a more formal arrangement than others.

The majority of all kinship care situations - 77 percent - are private kinship care, which occurs without the assistance of social service agencies. Often, the adult child relinquishes the child to the grandparent, or the grandparent removes the child from the home and there is no formal involvement by the state or Child Protective Services.

The rest occur when social service or foster care agencies help place children with their kin and the child is deemed a ward of the court or "foster child."

All kinship care arrangements that occur with child welfare contact are considered public, whether it is a voluntary or court-ordered placement.

There is no separate licensing program for kinship foster parents. Kin have to meet the same licensing standards and training requirements and receive the same foster care payment rate as non-kin foster parents.

There are five basic legal arrangements for grandparents who are raising their grandchildren:

* Parental consent agreement is voluntary and requires consent by parents; no court action is required.

* Legal guardianship takes place in a superior court or family court and gives the grandparent adult authority and personal care of the child, but does not terminate parental rights.

* Dependency guardianship occurs only in a dependency proceeding, where the child is a dependent of the state. It grants the same rights of the parent to the guardian, with a few exceptions. It may or may not terminate parental rights.

* Non-parental third-party arrangements take place in family court or superior court and give the grandparent authority over finances and personal care for the child. It establishes placement and custody and often includes a parenting plan for the child that includes visitation and service requirements for the parents.

* Adoption takes place in family court or superior court and the parent must relinquish parental rights or it must be proven that the parents are unfit. This arrangement terminates parental rights.

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