Foster Care

Kinship Care in Ohio: Your Guide to Helping a Child in Need

If you’re looking into becoming a kinship caregiver, we can help. Here’s our guide for kinship carers in Ohio, from the process to tips for new caregivers.

In Ohio, kinship care is an important part of the foster care system. It provides a stable and nurturing environment for children during tough times when they can’t live with their parents. 

Whether you’re a grandparent wondering how to foster your grandkids in a time of need or a family friend looking into becoming a kinship carer, we can help. Below, we’ll explore the definition of kinship care, its benefits, and the processes involved in becoming a caregiver. 

What is Kinship Care?

Kinship care is a form of child care where children are looked after by relatives or close family friends, often referred to as “kin,” when their biological parents cannot do so. 

This arrangement can be formal, involving legal custody or foster care agreements, or informal, where no legal arrangement exists.

  • The key distinction between kinship care and traditional foster care is the caregiver's relationship with a child.
  • While traditional foster care involves placing children with state-certified caregivers who are usually not related to them, kinship care prioritizes relatives or family friends.
  • This keeps a child's connection to their family and community rather than removing them from what they know.

This approach is often considered less disruptive for a child, allowing them to stay within their familiar social and cultural environment.

Kinship Care vs. Adoption

When a child is adopted, the legal relationship between a child and their biological parents is permanently altered.

In kinship care, depending on the arrangement, the legal ties to the biological parents may still remain intact, and the care arrangement can be temporary or long-term based on the family's situation.

Benefits of Kinship Care in Ohio

In the Ohio child welfare system, kinship care plays a significant role. It is recognized as a preferred option for children who cannot live with their biological parents because it promotes stability and continuity in a child's life. 

Ohio's policies and programs often emphasize the importance of keeping children with family caregivers to minimize trauma and provide a sense of security.

By leveraging the bond between a child and their kin, kinship care in Ohio aims to foster a supportive environment conducive to a child's well-being and development!

While kinship care provides many of the same benefits as foster care, it is different from traditional foster care in a few ways:

Emotional and Psychological Advantages 

  • Children in kinship care often experience less trauma and emotional distress compared to those in non-relative foster care.
  • The familiarity of being with family or close friends provides a sense of security and continuity, which is essential for emotional stability. 

Children are more likely to maintain existing relationships and connections, reducing the sense of loss and abandonment that can accompany removal from the biological home.

Maintaining Family Bonds and Cultural Heritage

  • Kinship care allows children to stay connected with their family roots and cultural heritage. 

This connection is especially important for a child's identity and self-esteem, ensuring that children continue to learn and participate in their family traditions, languages, and cultural practices, which might be lost in other forms of care placements.


  • Kinship care can often provide better stability. 

If a child is staying with a relative they know, trust, and who lives in the same area, they’ll get to keep the same friends and keep attending the same school.

Any amount of stability during trying times is crucial, and kinship caregivers can provide that for children in need! 

Keeping Siblings Together 

Foster care can often keep them together, but kinship care typically has a better chance of keeping a child together with their brothers or sisters, further keeping their family ties. 

How to Become a Kinship Caregiver in Ohio

Are you ready to make a difference in the life of a child in need? 

Here are the steps you’ll need to take to become a kinship caregiver in Ohio!

Apply With a Kinship Care Organization

The first step to becoming a kinship caregiver involves an organization gathering essential information from you and other residents in your home. 

  • This data collection includes names, Social Security numbers, addresses, and employment details.
  • The organization then checks for any previous interactions with children's services. In cases where there is prior involvement, the agency will discuss this with you.
  • Additionally, all adult household members must undergo fingerprinting for criminal background checks — similar to traditional foster care.

Home Study

Just like becoming a foster parent, to become a kinship caregiver you will need to go through a home study

In the process of becoming a kinship caregiver, a caseworker conducts interviews with adult household members to evaluate their readiness and capability to provide care for the child. They also inspect the home to confirm its safety. 

The assessment covers various aspects, such as:

  • Ensuring cleanliness
  • Checking for the absence of hazardous conditions
  • Secure storage of dangerous or flammable materials
  • Adequate heating, lighting, and ventilation
  • Proper plumbing and sanitation facilities
  • Smoke alarms are installed on each occupied level
  • Secure and locked storage of weapons and ammunition
  • Suitable and appropriate bedding for the child
  • Availability or access to a working telephone for emergencies

Discussing Support Options

Your caseworker will guide you through transitioning, providing details on programs like Kinship Support and methods to apply for Ohio Works First child-only financial aid and Medicaid. 

  • They'll explain the financial differences among Kinship Support stipends, Ohio Works First stipends, and foster care per diem stipends.
  • You'll also learn about becoming a licensed foster caregiver versus kinship caregiver requirements and the varying support services for kinship caregivers, foster caregivers, and adoptive parents.

Tips for New Kinship Caregivers in Ohio

For new kinship caregivers in Ohio, transitioning into this role is rewarding, but it may also present some challenges you can overcome.

Here are some tips for kinship caregivers in Ohio.

Adjusting to the Role

  • When starting as a kinship caregiver, you’ll need to embrace the responsibilities by educating yourself about kinship care specifics in Ohio.
  • You’ll also want to familiarize yourself with the necessary legal documentation and financial support options available.
  • If you need to, consult with legal professionals in Ohio to help you understand how to move forward.

The more information you have, the more successful you’ll be!

Be Patient

  • Even if you’re family, it may take some time for a child in care to adjust to their new setting!
  • Give them time — they will eventually come around if you are patient and provide them with the love and care that they need. 

There may be some negative behaviors at first, but that’s okay. With a little patience, you’ll be able to build a positive relationship and bond that a child in care needs to thrive. 

Build a Support Network

  • You don’t have to go through the kinship care journey alone. Everyone can use a shoulder to lean on from time to time.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask friends and family for help. These are people who also want what’s best for you and for a child in care.
  • You can also consider joining local or online foster care groups to share both experiences and advice with each other. 

As we mentioned above, there are also official support options, such as financial help, health services, and more. Lean on these when you need to — it will make the journey much easier.

Don’t Forget to Prioritize Your Needs Too

To properly care for a child in need, you need to take care of yourself, too! 

  • Prioritizing yourself is okay — everyone needs to recharge and relax from time to time.
  • Taking care of both your physical health and your mental health is a must as a kinship caregiver. 

Learn More About Foster Care in Our Upcoming Webinar 

Looking for more information about foster care in Ohio? If so, our upcoming webinar can give you the answers. 

By attending a Foster Parent Information Session Webinar and learning more about the fostering process, you can take the first step toward becoming a kinship caregiver to provide a safe, loving, and supportive home for a child in need. 

Sign up for our webinar today, or get in touch with a Mentor Foster Care location near you for more information:

Sign Up For The Webinar

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