February 2, 2012

(Denver) – Rep. John Kefalas (D-Fort Collins) passed a bill through the House Health and Environment Committee today streamlining the process of kinship placements and promoting safe and increased use of kinship care for youth in the foster care system. The bill passed committee on a unanimous vote.

“This bill reduces costs in the child welfare system and helps increase the placement of children with relatives and siblings, leading to safer, happier and healthier foster homes,” Rep. Kefalas said.

Right now, more than 75 percent of children in relative foster homes in Colorado are in unlicensed homes, which are not eligible for financial assistance. This can create a disincentive for relatives to take responsibility for a related child in the foster care system. This bill fixes this issue by allowing counties to waive non-safety requirements to remove these barriers so that more foster kids can live with relatives.

Children in kinship care are less likely to require additional services than children in foster care, reducing costs in the child welfare system. Kinship placements tend to be more stable than foster care placements, and children placed with relatives are more likely to be placed with siblings and maintain relationships with their families. Kinship care also increases the likelihood that foster children will remain in their communities and in the school systems they grew up in.

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