Office of Children and Family Services

Kinship

Expansion of the Kinship Guardianship Assistance Program (KinGAP)

Effective March 12, 2018, Chapter 384 of the Laws of 2017 amends the Social Services Law in relation to eligibility of children for subsidized kinship guardianship assistance (KinGAP). This chapter, known as “KinGAP Expansion”, supports the State’s effort to expedite permanency for children and youth for whom reunification and adoption have been ruled out. The law required an amendment to the Title IV-E plan to reflect the changes to KinGAP. The law, as implemented, made two changes to KinGAP:

  1. The definition of “prospective relative guardian” is expanded to include an individual who:
    • is related to a half-sibling of the child through blood, marriage or adoption and where such person is also the prospective or appointed relative guardian of such half-sibling; or
    • is an adult with a positive relationship with the child including, but not limited to, a step-parent, godparent, neighbor or family friend. This positive relationship must have been established prior to the child’s current foster care placement with the prospective relative guardian.
  2. Eliminates the existing provision which mandates that a child entering a KinGAP agreement prior to age 16 becomes ineligible for KinGAP payments at age 18. Upon the effective date of the new law, KinGAP payments must be made to the relative guardian until the child’s 18th birthday or, upon consent of the child, until the child attains 21 years of age if specified criteria are met.

The change in the definition of “prospective relative guardian” eliminates the need for the prospective kinship guardian to be related by blood, marriage, or adoption to a child or to all siblings in a sibling group, therefore increasing permanency options for children in foster care and making sibling groups eligible to be placed together in KinGAP arrangements. Expanding the definition of “prospective relative guardian” increases the number of adults who may be eligible for KinGAP with a child in foster care, in their home, therefore increasing permanency options for children and siblings in foster care.

The new provision aligns support for children entering a KinGAP agreement prior to age 16 with the supports afforded to children entering a KinGAP agreement after age 16 and children who are adopted.

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