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Kinship Care Handbooks and Publications


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Kinship Legal Guardianship Publications:

Document Resource Library

Kinship Caregivers and the Child Welfare System by the Child Welfare Information Gateway

A number of grandparents and other relatives find themselves serving as parents for children whose own parents are unable to care for them. Sometimes, the arrangement (referred to as "kinship care") is an informal, private arrangement between the parents and relative caregivers; in other situations, the child welfare system is involved. This factsheet is designed to help kinship caregivers—including grandparents, aunts and uncles, and other relatives caring for children—work effectively with the child welfare system.


Helping You Transition to Adulthood: Resources for New Jersey's Youth

This New Jersey guide serves as a useful tool to assist you through the transition into adulthood. The information in this guide outlines resources as well as people who are available and willing to help you plan for your future. Ultimately, we want you to reach adulthood successfully!



NJ Child Welfare Citizen Review Panel Annual Report

The mission of the New Jersey Child Welfare Citizen Review Panel (NJCWCRP) is to improve the safety, well being and permanency of NJ children by examining the practices, policies and procedures of State and local agencies, and to evaluate the extent to which they are effectively meeting their child protection responsibilities.

The mission is accomplished through building a constituency for child welfare and soliciting public comment to assess the impact of the policies and practices of the State child welfare system upon children and families. The Panel shall issue an annual report of its findings and recommendations to the State for improvements in the NJ child welfare system.



Kinship Legal Guardianship: A Permanency Option in DYFS Cases

The Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) has placed a child in your home. You may be related to the child, a close friend of the family or perhaps the child is unrelated but has been in your home for a long time. Your DYFS case manager has explained that it is unlikely the child will return to his parents. DYFS is asking you to make a permanent commitment to raise this child. You have lots of questions. What are your options? What financial supports will be available to you? It is important for you to understand the different permanency options available to you and the child in your home. You should learn about all the options, the financial supports available with each, and how those supports may affect other benefits you receive before making your final decision. This guide gives you an overview of one permanency option -- kinship legal guardianship (KLG) as a first step toward making this all- important decision. It also provides information about adoption supports.


NJ Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect Citizen Review Panel Annual Report (2012)


Kinship Legal Guardianship Pro Se Manual

Is the child of a relative or close friend living in your home? Has the child been living with you for more than the last 12 months? Is this arrangement likely to continue? Do the parents have serious problems that prevent them from caring for their child? Are you willing to raise the child to adulthood? If you answered “yes” to these questions, then you may want to become the child’s kinship legal guardian. The Kinship Legal Guardianship law, which went into effect in January 2002, allows you -- the caregiver -- to become the child’s legal guardian. That means you act, in almost every way, like the child’s parent.


Raising Your Grandchildren, January 2010

2017 Basic Guide to Special Education

This short pamphlet is intended as a reference guide for people who are about to address a child’s educational development in the realm of special education. It is not intended to offer advice or legal guidance. For an expanded, legally grounded, explanation of any aspect of the special education process, parents/caregivers are encouraged to contact the Children’s Legal Resource Center CNJ. Staff attorneys can provide printed information and limited personal assistance to individual parents/caregivers. Spanish consultations are available.

New Jersey Resource Guide for Families and Children: Prepared by Special Education Clinic, Rutgers University School of Law


Adoption Basics for Educators: How Adoption Impacts Children & How Educators Can Help

This booklet was developed to provide educators with basic information about adoption-related issues and the effect these issues might have on students, as well as suggestions on how educators can assist and advocate for students who are adopted.


Education Rights of Homeless Students

This pamphlet is designed to help parents, guardians and caregivers understand the legal concepts and procedures involved in disputes over the enrollment of homeless students in local public schools, and to inform them of their legal rights.2 In reading this information, please remember that the requirements of the McKinney Act and of the state regulations concerning the education of homeless students are intended to minimize interruptions in schooling when a student becomes homeless.

Understanding Public School Residency Requirements

Parents, guardians, caregivers and school administrators will sometimes disagree over whether a student resides in a school district and can be enrolled in a district public school. The information in this manual is designed to help parents, guardians and caregivers understand the legal concepts involved in residency disputes, and to inform them of their legal rights. Effective December 17, 2001, for the first time, the New Jersey Department of Education adopted regulations governing the residency requirements for admitting students to public schools. Those regulations provide extensive procedural protections to ensure that students are not denied an education during residency disputes.

GrandFacts A State Fact Sheets for Grandparent and Other Relatives Raising Children

The AARP Foundation, The Brookdale Foundation Group, Casey Family Programs, Child Welfare League of America, Children's Defense Fund, and Generations United have partnered to produce fact sheets for grandparents and other relatives raising children that include state-specific data, programs, and public policies. This and other state fact sheets can be viewed and printed from the website at  Factsheets are updated annually.


 GrandFacts National Fact Sheets for Grandparents and Other Relatives Raising Children

AARP, The Brookdale Foundation Group, Casey Family Programs, Child Welfare League of America, Children's Defense Fund, and Generations United have partnered to produce state and national GrandFacts fact sheets for grandparents and other relatives raising children. The state fact sheets include state-specific data and programs as well as information about foster care, public benefits, educational assistance and state laws. Visit  to find this and all GrandFacts state fact sheets.



DCF'S Division of Prevention and Community Partnership Community Program Directory

This Community Program Directory represents an ongoing commitment by the New Jersey Department of Children and Families (DCF) to increase access to resources that are designed to strengthen families and prevent child abuse or neglect. The services identified in this Directory are funded by DCF’s Division of Prevention and Community Partnerships (DPCP), a grant-making and best practices team committed to strengthening New Jersey’s families.


Summer Safety for Kids and Families

This brochures provides important summer safety tips when kids are around cars, water and other summer activities.


DDD Resource Directory 2016

Resources 2013 provides easy access to information about programs and services available for residents living and working with disabilities and the families, advocates and professional communities working to assist people with disabilities. The New Jersey Department of Human Services’ (DHS) Division of Disability Services developed the directory, and encourages you to contact the Division if you have any questions or difficulty using it.

Contact Information:

Joseph M. Amoroso, Acting Director
TELEPHONE: (888) 285-3036 (Toll-Free)
(609) 292-7800
FAX: (609) 292-1233
TDD: (609) 292-1210
MAILING ADDRESS: 222 South Warren Street
PO Box 700, Trenton, NJ 08625-0700


Adolescent Vaccinations

Vaccines recommended for adolescents are underused, leaving our nation’s teens vulnerable to serious illness and even death. Healthcare providers should make every effort to vaccinate adolescents according to the national immunization schedule to benefit adolescents, their close contacts, and society at large. The US immunization schedule is the result of a careful and extensive review of all aspects of vaccines (eg, effectiveness, safety, cost) by a 15-member expert panel, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), and the adoption of ACIP’s recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


A guide for parents when your child is in Foster Care

This handbook was created by The Department of Children and Families to help families involved with the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) whose children have been placed in foster care. Families need to know why children have been removed from their parents’ care, what to expect when this happens, and how and when their children can return home.
Because your child is now in placement, it is critically important for you to understand what will happen next, what you can expect from DYFS and the Family Court, and what they will expect of you.
This handbook was written to answer some of the questions that parents ask. It can help to guide the work we will face together in the coming months so that your children can return home safely. However, reading this handbook should not take the place of paying careful attention to the specific details, timelines, and requirements of your own unique family situation.


Choosing a Childcare, A Parent's Guide for Children with Special Need

Children are more alike than different, yet each child has unique needs that must be considered when arranging child care. This booklet will give you the information you need to make a confident choice. Here are some steps that will ease the way to a successful relationship with your child care provider.



Youth Guide Wraparound

Someone cares about your life and future. That’s why you’ve been recommended for Wraparound. Funny name for a process that has one goal: supporting you in making positive life choices. Wraparound provides this support through a team created for you and by you. Some team members will be people who provide you and your family support services, such as counselors and therapists. Others will be people you choose because you care about one another—for example, family members, a good friend, or a favorite teacher. Team members support you as you figure out what’s working in your life and what isn’t. Together, you and your team create a plan of action based on your challenges, your dreams, and your life. Your Wraparound plan is unique to you and your situation. While no two Wraparound plans look alike, teens in Wraparound seem to want the same thing: to feel loved and safe in their families, friendships, and communities. They want to find ways to express themselves to others. Wraparound can help with all that.



Things People Never Told Me

Transitioning out of foster care can be a difficult and confusing process. We interviewed a group of young adults who either had navigated or were in the process of navigating that transition in order to gain insight into important life areas such as finances, employment, healthcare, transportation, and relationships, among others. We hope that by learning from their experiences as well as their suggestions, youth leaving foster care will be equipped with the necessary tools to become independent and successful adults.



Helping Foster and Adoptive Families Cope With Trauma

The purpose of this guide is to support adoptive and foster families by strengthening the abilities of pediatricians to:1) identify traumatized children,
2) educate families about toxic stress and the possible biological, behavioral, and social manifestations of early childhood trauma, and
3) empower families to respond to their child’s behavior in a manner that acknowledges past trauma but promotes the learning of new, more adaptive reactions to stress.



Surviving Guide for Parents

This book provides some of the knowledge needed to help you in your important role as a parent. Learning more about parenting and child development can make a world of difference for both you and your child. Increasing your understanding, together with your love for your child, can help you become a better parent – a very special person in your child’s world.
You expect a lot from your child ... but your child’s age determines what you’ll get.
Parents somehow know that their child is not always going to behave perfectly. A child’s needs and actions change as he or she grows older, and all children develop at different rates. This is perfectly normal. However, knowing what to expect as your child goes through the different stages of life can help you a great deal. On the following pages you’ll find some behavior traits to expect as your child grows into an adult.

For Spanish version please click here.

Adoption Assistance for Children Adopted From Foster Care

What’s Inside:
• Federal Title IV-E Adoption Assistance
• State adoption assistance
• Arranging adoption assistance

Helping Your Foster Child Transition to Your Adopted Child

What’s Inside:
• Talking with children about the changes
• Helping children understand their histories and losses
• Helping children cope with trauma and loss
• Helping children transfer attachments
• Conclusion
• Resources


Foster Parents Considering Adoption

What’s Inside:
• Differences between foster parenting and adopting
• Advantages of foster parent adoption
• Strategies for foster/adoptive families
• Conclusion
• Resources
• References



Youth and Family Guide

As the parent/legal guardian of a child, youth or young adult (referred to as youth in this handbook) enrolled in PerformCare, we are very excited about helping your youth and family get
necessary services. This guide is designed to help you get the care that your youth needs. The information in this guide is about the behavioral health services (when we say behavioral health
we are talking about behavioral, mental health or emotional challenges) available to your youth.
For Spanish Version please click here.


Kinship Adoption Meeting the Unique Needs of a Growing Population

Every year, more and more children in foster care find permanent homes with relatives when they cannot return to live with their parents. Most children will find permanent homes through relative adoption, which continued to increase throughout the decade. In 2000, 21 percent of the children adopted from foster care were adopted by relatives. By 2007, relative adoptions from foster care accounted for 28 percent of the children exiting foster care.


The GrandKin Guide

Every year, more and more children in foster care find permanent homes with relatives when they cannot return to live with their parents. Most children will find permanent homes through relative adoption, which continued to increase throughout the decade. In 2000, 21 percent of the children adopted from foster care were adopted by relatives. By 2007, relative adoptions from foster care accounted for 28 percent of the children exiting foster care.


Supporting Your LGBTQ Youth: A Guide for Foster Parents

There are approximately 175,000 youth ages 10–18 in foster care in the United States.1 Of these youth, an estimated 5–10 percent—and likely more—are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ).



Grounds for Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights

Every State, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have statutes providing for the termination of parental rights by a court. Termination of parental rights ends the legal parent-child relationship. Once the relationship has been terminated, the child is legally free to be placed for adoption, with the objective of securing a more stable, permanent family environment that can meet the child’s long-term parenting needs.

Termination may be voluntary or involuntary. Birth parents who wish to place their children for adoption may voluntarily relinquish their rights.



What Is Child Welfare? A Guide for Health-Care Professionals

Health-care professionals play a crucial role in the health and well-being of children, youth, and families. Their contact with children and families during the different stages of a child’s life gives them a unique opportunity to observe families’ resilience and progress and to provide education and support. When necessary, health-care professionals report suspected child abuse and neglect. This guide provides an overview of child welfare services, describes how health-care professionals and child welfare workers can collaborate, and lists resources for more information.



Infant Safe Haven Laws

Many State legislatures have enacted legislation to address infant abandonment and infanticide in response to a reported increase in the abandonment of infants. Beginning in Texas in 1999, "Baby Moses laws" or infant safe haven laws have been enacted as an incentive for mothers in crisis to safely relinquish their babies to designated locations where the babies are protected and provided with medical care until a permanent home is found. Safe haven laws generally allow the parent, or an agent of the parent, to remain anonymous and to be shielded from prosecution for abandonment or neglect in exchange for surrendering the baby to a safe haven.



Stepparent Adoption

Adopting a stepchild is the most common form of adoption. A stepparent who adopts agrees to become the legal parent and be fully responsible for his or her spouse’s child. After the stepparent adoption occurs, the noncustodial parent (the parent not living with the child) no longer has any rights or responsibilities for the child, including child support.



Standby Guardianship

Every State permits transfer of guardianship authority over a child from a parent to another adult when the child has no other parent available to assume responsibility for care and custody of the child. A traditional guardianship provides for the care of a child in the event of the parent’s death or permanent disability and is generally regarded as a permanent transfer of custody and authority from the parent to the guardian.

One recent approach to transferring custody is facilitated through standby guardianship laws. Many States developed these laws specifically to address the needs of parents living with HIV/AIDS, other disabling conditions, or terminal illnesses who want to plan a legally secure future for their children. Approximately 26 States and the District of Columbia have made statutory provisions for standby guardianships.



Family to family Tools for Rebuilding the Foster Care

Older foster children and youth have a pressing need for permanency. Almost half of the 538,801 children in out-of-home care at the end of the federal 2000 reporting period were ages 10 to17 (Gibbs et al., 2004). As one youth explained, “Our time is almost up. We want a home, and people we can call parents.” Still, tens of thousands of foster youth emancipate from the system without connections each year. This crisis has provoked a groundswell of action by youth advocates, and a call from young people themselves to change the system. It is not typical for youth to leave foster care and function effectively on their own. Older children need parents and the support of committed adults. Research shows that disadvantaged young people who are connected to adults do better: They relate to others with ease, take fewer risks, have better health, and overcome adversity more easily.

Published by:
The North American Council on Adoptable Children
for The Annie E. Casey Foundation Family to Family Initiative


A Guide for Father Involvement in System of Care

This guide shares information about the importance of fathers in the lives of their children, and it identifies potential consequences if they are not involved. It also offers strategies for systems and families, especially those who are involved in systems of care, to help fathers become more involved. Section I discusses statistics about the presence and absence of fathers in families.


2013 Data Book

After many years of calamitous economic trends, this year’s KIDS COUNT Data Book reveals some modest but hopeful signs of recovery and improvement for America’s
children and families. While the nation certainly has not fully recovered from the recession, we are doing the hard work of digging out and moving ahead.

Children in Nonparental Care

A review of the Literature and Analysis of data Gaps

The family is the central and earliest social context within which children develop (Bronfenbrenner, 1979). Typically, one or two parents and a child—along with any siblings—comprise a family, and the parents’ interactions with the child are a primary driver of the child’s development. Yet, nearly 3 million children (3.9 percent of all children) live in homes with no parent present (U.S. Census Bureau, 2011). Evidence that children living with two parents tend to fare better than children who live with only one parent (for a review, see Dunifon, 2009) raises the concern that children living with no parent present may be at particular risk. Indeed, one study of children born to unmarried parents indicated that those who lived consistently with a single parent tended to fare better3 than those with non-parental caregivers (Aquilino, 1996). Another reason for concern is that children living with non-parental caregivers have experienced at least one family transition, and evidence indicates that family instability can negatively affect children (for a review, see Fomby and Cherlin, 2007). Alternatively or additionally, some of the circumstances resulting in the non-parental care may themselves negatively affect children.




For a variety of reasons, adopted individuals and their families are more likely to use mental health services than is the general population. Helping adoptive parents manage these life complexities for themselves and their children can be a challenge, often requiring the help of professionals. Adopted individuals, as children and through their life cycles, can encounter a range of concerns (e.g. ones related to identity) with which they want and need professional assistance. Furthermore, birth/first mothers and fathers also frequently need the services of mental health counselors as they struggle to cope with their loss and, for a growing number of these individuals, to find satisfying ways of managing ongoing relationships with their children and their adoptive families. Mental health and allied professionals must be prepared to meet the needs of these individuals and families. They must possess not only the foundations for competent clinical practice, but also a deep understanding of the unique issues involved.

Published by:

Policy Perspective
August 2013
Funded by: The Donaldson Adoption Institute



Guide To Kinship Legal Guardianship Support Services

Publication of New Jersey Department of Children and Families
Office of Adoption Operations Kinship Legal Guardianship Subsidy Program


Risk and protective Factors for Discontinuity in Public Adoption and Guardianship


Caring for LGBTQ Children & Youth a guide for child welfare providers

This booklet was developed to provide you with information about the care and support of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning children and youth. Chances are you picked up this guide because you believe, just as Bryan Samuels, the former commissioner of the U.S. Administration on Children, Youth and Families said, “every child and youth who is unable to live with his or her parents is entitled to a safe, loving and affirming foster care placement, irrespective of the young person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.” Unfortunately, we know LGBTQ youth are disproportionately represented in the child welfare system and often face discrimination and mistreatment in out-of-home care.


  In Loving Arms

Most babies, children and youth have traumatic
experiences 1 before going to live with their
grandparents, aunts, uncles or other relatives in
grandfamilies. 2 More than half of children involved
with the child welfare system 3 have experienced at
least four adverse childhood experiences (ACEs),
leaving them 12 times more likely to have negative
health outcomes than the general child population. 4
As the number of children in foster care 5 increases,
due in part to the nation’s opioid crisis, 6 the child
welfare system is increasingly relying on grandparents
and other relatives to raise the children. 7 Yet grandparents
and other relatives are less likely than
non-related foster parents to receive supports
and services, including those provided by
professionals trained in helping children who
have experienced trauma.

Across the country, more than six million children -- approximately 1 in 12 children -- are living in households headed by grandparents or other relatives. The District of Columbia has more than 113,000 children living in households headed by grandparents or other relatives. In many of these households, grandparents and other relatives are the primary caregivers (“kinship caregivers”) for children whose parents cannot or will not care for them due to substance abuse, illness and death, abuse and neglect, economic hardship, incarceration, divorce, domestic violence, and other family and community crises.

Legal Guardianship

Kinship Legal Guardianship
The Kinship Legal Guardianship law can assist families who have assumed the care of children because of a parent’s incapacitation in formalizing that relationship legally in order to ensure permanency for that child. It supports family decision-making. In child abuse and neglect cases, it offers another mechanism to achieve permanency for a child without terminating parental rights.

Placement of Children With Relatives

In order for States to receive Federal payments for foster care and adoption assistance, Federal law requires that they "consider giving preference to an adult relative over a nonrelated caregiver when determining placement for a child, provided that the relative caregiver meets all relevant State child protection standards." (Placement refers to the placing of a child in the home of an individual other than a parent or guardian or in a facility other than a youth services center.) Approximately 24 States and Puerto Rico give preference or priority to relative placements in their statutes. Approximately five States, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands make no reference to placement with relatives pending permanent placement of a child removed from his or her parents' home. The remaining States use statutory language such as "may consider" placement with relatives.

Child Welfare Information Gateway:  Kinship Care: Best Practices

National Resource Center: Hunter School of Social Work: Kinship Care: Making the Most of a Valuable Resource, 2003

Kinship care : making the most of a valuable resource.

Geen, Rob (Editor).
ix, 292 p.
Published:  2003
Publication Information: Washington, DC : The Urban Institute Press.
Available from: Urban Institute
2100 M Street, NW
Washington, DC  20037
Tel: 202-833-7200
Available From:

Using the results from a study involving 96 focus groups of child welfare workers and kinship caregivers, in addition to interviews with local administrators, advocates, and service providers, this book describes frontline kinship care practices and explores how and why child welfare agencies approach kin and non-kin foster care differently. Chapters present the results of intensive case studies conducted by the Urban Institute of local kinship care policies and frontline practices in 13 locations in four States during the spring and summer of 2001. The case study sites included Jefferson, Mobile, and Talladega counties in Alabama; Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz counties in California; Bridgeport, Hartford, and Torrington municipalities in Connecticut; and Lake, LaPorte, and Marion counties in Indiana. Following an introductory chapter, Chapter 2 focuses on agency efforts to identify and recruit kin to act as foster parents when the agency determines that a child cannot remain in his or her parents' home. The chapter examines how agencies interpret federal and State policies that they should give preference to relatives, and assesses how and when child welfare workers actively seek out relatives to be foster parents. Chapter 3 examines how local child welfare agencies assess kin before placing a child in their care, and how this assessment differs from the licensing of non-kin foster parents. Chapter 4 examines how well kin understand what is expected of them as foster parents, as well as the role of the child welfare agency and court, and documents how birth parent visitation is different in kinship placements. Chapters 5 and 6 compare the service needs of kin and non-kin foster parents and children, and examines the different way that local agencies approach permanency planning when children are in kin care. Chapter 7 explores child welfare agencies use of voluntary kinship care, and Chapter 8 offers the experiences of 25 kinship foster parents. The concluding chapter provides recommendations for policy, program development, caseworker training, and kinship caregiver training. Numerous references. (Author abstract modified)

National Resource Center: Kinship Care Fact Sheet, May 2004

Legal and Financial Differences between Adoption, KLG and Independent Living, developed by ACNJ, June 2008

Grandparents and Relatives as Caregivers

In New Jersey and across the country, many grandparents and relatives are providing care to children who are unable to live with their birth parents.  Parenting can be challenging as a lot may have changed since you raised your own child. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Many agencies and organizations can offer you assistance in dealing with problems all caregivers have.  Included are just a few links to resources that may be able to assist.

Keeping Safe!

Children's Bilingual Guide.

Keeping Safe!

A teen Bilingual Guide.