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Updates to federal foster care rules will soon impact Kentucky families


Youth advocacy groups in the state say a recent update to federal foster care laws is vital to the welfare of Kentucky’s children in the system. The new rules impact kinship and fictive kin care, as well as clarifying the guidelines in other areas of the foster care system.

Shannon Moody is the Chief Officer for Policy and Strategy at Kentucky Youth Advocates. She said the Commonwealth typically prioritizes allowing relatives and close family friends to take in children when they are removed from their homes instead of resorting to more traditional foster care.

“What this new rule would allow is for the state to pay relatives and fictive kin the same as they pay foster parents while still creating flexibility for them to get approval,” she said. “It does not change or reduce any of the safety standards, but it allows the state to use federal dollars to help pay for the cost of that care for the child.”

Additionally, Moody said children who have been removed from their homes have better outcomes if they’re placed in kinship or fictive kin care.

“It’s really important to maintain those familial connections, because it reduces the trauma of removal from their homes,” she says. “It also provides a safe place that they’re familiar with, which can lead to better behavioral health impacts, and actually a better educational impact as well, in the immediate as they’re dealing with that transition.”

Moody said as of September, there were over 1,000 Kentucky children placed in relative or fictive kin care.

The other updated rules provide guidelines that ensure youth in the foster care system who identify as LGBTQ+ are placed in accepting homes. They also expand access to legal representation for families by utilizing federal funds. The updated rules go into effect on November 27.