Gov. John Carney has signed a law requiring a state agency for child services to explore joining a federal program that aims to find permanent housing solutions for foster children.
Senate Joint Resolution 1, from Sen. Eric Buckson, R-Dover, and Rep. Kim Williams, D-Stanton, directs the Department of Services for Children, Youth & Their Families to consider participating in the federal title IV-E Guardianship Assistance Program.
Delaware is one of nine states in the country that are not currently involved in the program.
In 2008, Congress passed the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act, which established the guardianship assistance program.
It distributes a formula grant that helps states provide guardianship assistance payments to relatives of foster children who assume legal guardianship of that child.
To be eligible for these payments, the relative guardian’s home must either be licensed or approved as meeting the licensure requirements as a foster family home.
Delaware must determine that specific criteria have been met, including that the relative guardian has a strong commitment to caring permanently for the child, the child demonstrates a strong attachment to the relative and for children who are 14 or older, that the child has been consulted regarding the kinship guardianship arrangement.
“Providing assistance and encouraging relative guardianship is a win for both the child and the state of Delaware,” Buckson said in a statement. “Children thrive in a permanent, healthy family environment, and the federal Guardianship Assistance Program supports this.”
Buckson said since the funding is available, the First State should at least explore how to acquire and utilize the money.
The law requires the Department of Services for Children, Youth & Their Families to provide a report to the General Assembly by November 30 describing its findings and recommendations.
According to the resolution, Delaware’s Division of Family Services received 21,579 reports of abuse, neglect, and dependency in fiscal year 2020 and of all cases investigated, 863, or 20% were substantiated. Also there were 902 children who spent at least one day in foster care in Delaware during that year.
Williams said joining the program would be the right thing to do for Delaware families, adding the payments would provide a lifeline for many devoted relatives who are providing stable, loving homes for children.
“The funds would also bridge critical gaps in our child welfare system,” she said, “expediting the journey towards permanent, nurturing homes for children in foster care.”
Raised in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Jarek earned a B.A. in journalism and a B.A. in political science from Temple University in 2021. After running CNN’s Michael Smerconish’s YouTube channel, Jarek became a reporter for the Bucks County Herald before joining Delaware LIVE News.
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