Three New Programs

  1.  Kinship Care Pilot Program. This is the only one of the new programs available to caregivers caring for children who have not been placed by DCP&P. In order to get monthly benefits under this program, caregivers must a) obtain "kinship legal guardian" status, explained below; b) have income below 150% of the federal poverty guidelines--$26,475 for a family of four; and c) have cared for the children for the last 12 consecutive months. This program will be operated by the Division of Family Development (DFD) and is expected to serve approximately 8,000 children. Currently relatives and others caring for children (without DCP&P involvement) can get a child-only welfare grant at $162 per month for one child (and additional increments for more children, e.g., $322 for two children). Families should be aware, however, that the higher kinship care payments may result in a reduction of any Food Stamps or housing assistance they receive.

     
  2. DCP&P Relative Care Program. This program, administered by DCP&P, will provide monthly payments to relatives caring for children placed by DCP&P, without any financial eligibility limits. Caretakers will have to obtain legal guardianship under the new law, and the children must have resided with them for the last 12 months. The State expects that this program will cover approximately 2,000 children. Once legal guardianship is awarded, DCP&P will close its case, enabling the State to move child protection cases more rapidly in accordance with ASFA requirements.

     
  3. DCP&P Permanency Initiative. Under this program, also administered by DCP&P, payments will be available to approximately 3,000 children removed from their homes by DCP&P. The caretakers will not need to apply for legal guardianship and will not need to wait until the children have lived there 12 months. There are no income eligibility requirements. These benefits, however, will only last up to 15 months, at which time DCP&P is expected to have a "permanent" plan for the child, such as returning home, adoption or legal guardianship.