LANSING, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – Michigan has set the pace for kin caregiving rights, with its new Kin Caregiver Program becoming the first state to implement separate licensing standards for kin caregivers, and making the process for family members easier.

What is Kin Caregiving?

Under new rules announced by the Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra last week, the state is now obligated to offer kin caregivers with the same level of financial assistance that any other first care providers receive.

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“It is often grandparents who step up to care for a grandchild when that child’s parent can’t. We must be partners with those grandparents and support their commitment to care for the child while a parent gets back on their feet, so more children don’t end up in foster care,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Michigan’s robust support for kin caregivers has made it a national leader. The approval of Michigan’s plan means more kin caregivers will receive the financial support they deserve when caring for family members.”

How is Kin Caregiving beneficial?

Helping kin caregivers become licensed or approved foster caregivers is beneficial to the child and kin providing foster care according to the Health and Human Services. Jeff Hild, Assistant Secretary for Children and Families, an arm of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, also supported the move.

“When times are tough, many of us turn to family for help,” Hild said in a statement. “ACF understands grandparents and other kin who are raising children in safe, loving homes deserve support and we applaud Michigan for developing licensing standards that reflect the unique needs and strengths of kin caregivers.”

What are the new rules?

The new rule enables kin to become more readily licensed or approved, making it quicker for them to receive services and funding for children in kinship foster care according to HHS.

“Supporting kin caregivers is critical to whole family well-being and we are excited to support Michigan as the first state to implement the rule,” said Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Rebecca Jones Gaston. “This is a profound acknowledgement of the critical role family connections play in ensuring a child’s safety, stability and emotional growth.”

Before the decision, federal regulations made it challenging for family members like grandparents, aunts, and uncles to become caregivers according to the HHS.

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“Michigan has long recognized the value of kin caregivers and we are excited to be the first state in the country to have an approved licensing standard for kin,” said Elizabeth Hertel, Director, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “It is often grandparents and other family members who step in to provide a loving home when parents are unable to do so and they must be supported.”