CHAPTER 270

FORMERLY

SENATE BILL NO. 239

AS AMENDED BY HOUSE AMENDMENT NOS. 1 AND 2 AND

SENATE AMENDMENT NO. 1

AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 31 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO THE KINSHIP CARE PROGRAM.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE :

WHEREAS, the Kinship Care Taskforce was established by Senate Resolution 26 of the 140th General Assembly of the State of Delaware, whose charge was to study and make recommendations concerning the development of comprehensive kinship care legislation; and

WHEREAS, the Kinship Care Taskforce submitted a final written report to the Senate in January, 2001, that describes kinship care as a part of a continuum of resources to support children and families in cases where a child is living in the household of a relative other than a parent; and

WHEREAS, a relative who is confronted with raising another's child unexpectedly may not have had the opportunity to financially plan for the child and often is at or below the poverty level in family income;

WHEREAS, the report indicates that children in the care of relatives function better than those in foster care, yet foster care providers currently receive considerably more legal, financial, social, and informational support than do relatives who care for children; and

WHEREAS, the Foster Care Taskforce convened by Governor Ruth Ann Minner has given its support to the recommendations of the Kinship Care Taskforce;

NOW THEREFORE:

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE:

Section 1. This Act shall be known as the "Kinship Care Act of 2002."

Section 2. Amend Title 31, Delaware Code by adding a new §356, to read as follows:

"§356. Kinship Care Program.

(a) The Department of Services For Children Youth & Their Families (DSCYF) and the Department of Health and Social Services shall establish and operate the Kinship Care Program that promotes the placement of children with relatives when a child needs out-of-home placement, when such placement is in the best interest of the child, and when the child is not in the custody or care of the state.

(b) The Kinship Care Program shall establish eligibility guidelines for kinship caregivers to qualify for kinship care benefits and services, including the following criteria:

(1) The caregiver must be related to the child by blood or marriage within the fifth degree of consanguinity;

(2) The caregiver must have guardianship of the child or actively pursue guardianship;

(3) The child must reside in the home of the caregiver;

(4) The caregiver must have income of no more than 200% of the federal poverty level; and

(5) The parent or parents of a child in the kinship care program may not reside in the home of the kinship caregiver.

(c) The Kinship Care Program shall partner with the Delaware Helpline to maintain a toll-free telephone line that kinship caregivers and other interested persons may call as a centralized source of information about services provided by the kinship care program and other related services and resources for relatives caring for children.

(d) The Department of Services for Children, Youth, and their Families, in cooperation with the Department of Health and Social Services, shall establish and administer an emergency fund for eligible kinship caregivers, who may receive a one-time emergency financial subsidy, within the limits of available funding, to assist in purchasing clothes, furniture, and other items necessary to prepare the household to accommodate the child(ren).

(e) The Department of Health and Social Services and the Department of Services for Children, Youth, and their Families shall promulgate rules and regulations that are reasonable and necessary to establish or administer a kinship care program and that are consistent with the laws of the State of Delaware and in harmony with the recommendations of the Kinship Care Taskforce Report of January, 2001."

Section 4. This Program and the benefits provided pursuant to this Act shall be contingent upon and limited to annual appropriations made for such purpose.

Approved May 29, 2002