Category: ‘Laws in Nevada’

Placement versus Licensure: The Dilemma for Formal Kinship Care

February 20, 2014 Posted by Ali

Originally published in Fostering Families Today Jan/Feb 2014 Issue.

Placement versus Licensure: The Dilemma for Formal Kinship Care

One of my first experiences with a formal kinship family was with a spirited grandmother named Annette When CPS called, she unquestioningly accepted placement of her five grandchildren. The children’s mother had been murdered in front of them, and their father subsequently incarcerated. These children were lucky to have a stable relative willing to step in and provide fierce love and protection in addition to a connection to family and familiar community and activities, including school and church.

However, after several months had passed, Annette found she was spending much of her time fighting to become a licensed caregiver so she could get access to foster parent training, education in trauma informed parenting, and financial reimbursement. This was  time she would have preferred to spend providing additional care for the children, but the cost of their care had quickly drained her savings and she had to take a leave of absence from work to provide transportation for their many required appointments. She didn’t know how she could continue to support them.

A licensing worker had visited her home and said she would have to move into a larger house in order to have the correct number of bedrooms as required by licensing regulations. Event though the cost of moving was prohibitive, the child welfare agency said there was nothing they could do to assist her.

Annette did not understand why she had been approved for the placement of the five children if she did not meet the requirements for licensure. She was confused, overwhelmed, scared, and nearly broke caring for the five children. But Annette’s experience was not unique. While the number of unlicensed formal kinship caregivers is unknown, qualitative data suggests the number is not inconsequential, and this number is only likely to grow as the reliance on formal kinship care continues to expand.

Formal kinship care has increased over the past decades due in part to its well-documented advantages. Relative homes are just as safe or safer than non-relative placements. Children are less likely to be re-abused or neglected, they experience less placement moves, and are more likely to be kept with their siblings. If needed, kinship caregivers are more likely to provide permanency in the form of guardianship or adoption. Most uniquely, relative placements allow vulnerable children to maintain family and community connections (Kids are Waiting and Generations United, 2007).

While the increasing use of formal kinship care is positive, there are several factors at work that create a population of unlicensed caregivers. What relatives usually don’t understand when they receive the initial request to accept placement is that there are two different decision-making divisions in a child welfare agency: a division that makes a placement decision and a division that makes a licensing decision. These two divisions are often at odds and result in conflicting standards for relatives.

While Federal law supports relative placement, each state dictates separate requirements for foster parent licensing. These licensing requirements can go beyond what is required to meet the standards for placement; for example, the specific number and use of bedrooms for children. Relatives who meet the child protection standards for placement and already have children placed in their home may be surprised they do not meet the licensing requirements.

This disconnect in placement and licensing policy creates a two-tiered system of care for children placed in formal kinship care. Annett was denied a licensure based on the inadequate number of bedrooms in her home. With the placement, but without licensing, Annette became an unlicensed formal kinship caregiver, doing the work of a foster parent with no financial support.

Unlicensed relatives are provided a different level of support by the child welfare agency. Annette desired to be licensed in order to receive the same access to training and financial reimbursement  as foster parents. Unlicensed kinship caregivers have very limited access to training, support, and financial resources. For the foster children in their homes, unlicensed relatives are potentially unable to provide the same quality of care as licensed relatives. The children in unlicensed homes do not receive access to the same support, such as a caregiver trained in trauma informed care, a fully inspected home, and supplemental financial resources to sustain placement.

Kinship caregivers are exceedingly vulnerable to the financial strain of additional children. When relatives already have low income, accepting children without the option of licensing quickly pushes these families into poverty, forcing them to rely on other less adequate public support.

The gap between federal law around relative placement and state policies around licensing creates two different experiences of foster care for children in formal kinship care that varies in disparity state by state. Each state’s licensing policies must move toward being able to keep up with the needs of children in kinship care so this two-tiered system of care does not become further entrenched.

Let’s reflect back on Annette’s situation. The state placed Annette’s grandchildren with her and then denied licensing, creating incredible hardship for a family already hit by tragedy. Yet Annette, like many kinship caregivers, continued to care for the children as best she could, signing up for welfare and food stamps for the children and pawning most things of value in her home.

For many kinship families unable to find the resources to be licensed, the children, who are at the heart of child welfare, are the ones who lose most of all. To begin to improve the experience and outcomes for these foster children and their unlicensed kinship caregivers we must take a critical look at how law, policy and practice intersect to create the two-tiered system (licensed or unlicensed) that currently exists for formal kinship caregivers, advocate for more compatible placement and licensing standards, and reach out to surround kinship caregivers and the children in their homes with support the current policies fail to provide.

Non-Needy Relative Caretaker (NNRC) TANF in Nevada

April 17, 2013 Posted by Ali

Non-Needy Relative Caretaker (NNRC) TANF in Nevada

PLEASE NOTE: Most of this information is taken from the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services Division of Welfare and Supportive Services websites (links provided). Foster Kinship is not a representative of DWSS and encourages all relative caregivers to speak to a caseworker at the closest welfare office for specific answers to their particular situation. This information is provided as a starting point only.

NNRC TANF Summary

Most children living apart from their parents- including those living with family members- are eligible for cash assistance through TANF, even if the family member they are living with is not eligible.

As a non-parent relative, you may apply for assistance for your child only OR for your child and yourself. Before beginning to apply for any of the TANF programs, it is wise to obtain a copy of the application and the requirements to qualify.

There is great confusion out there about how grandparents and other relatives apply for aid for the children in their care and how that aid is determined. If your relative is eligible for assistance, don’t let misinformation deprive him/her of it.

In Nevada, if your relative’s children are living with you and the biological parents are not, and you are providing full time care for the children, you should consider applying for Non-Needy Relative Caretaker (NNRC)TANF.

Nevada TANF Benefits are managed by the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services: Division of Welfare and Supportive Services:https://dwss.nv.gov/

Full-time relative caregivers do not need legal custody or guardianship to apply for assistance on the child’s behalf.

IMPORTANT: WRITE NNRC/CHILD ONLY on the TOP OF YOUR APPLICATION!! This will hopefully help avoid any mistakes where your application is rejected because it is unclear you are not asking for assistance for yourself.

Non-Needy relatives can receive a small cash stipend each month to provide for the care of the children. Your household income cannot exceed 275% of the poverty guideline (versus 130% of poverty for regular TANF programs). So even if you have applied for assistance for yourself in the past and been rejected you may be eligible for NNRC TANF now.

Once your household has qualified for NNRC TANF, only the CHILD’S INCOME IS COUNTED TO DETERMINE BENEFITS. For example, some children may have income if they receive SSI.

 Description of Program (https://dwss.nv.gov/pdf/EP_Man_A-1000.pdf):

A Non-Needy Relative Caregiver (NNRC) is a relative, other than a legal parent, not requesting assistance for themselves and only requesting assistance for a relative child(ren).  The NNRC must be a relative of specified degree and the child must be living in the home of a specified relative.

The child(ren) must be living with the individual applying for assistance on their behalf that provides care and supervision and is the child’s (not all inclusive):

  • Father, mother, sister, brother, grandfather, grandmother;
  • Uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, first cousin; OR
  • Stepfather, stepmother, stepsister, stepbrother

NNRC TANF is a Child only program (TANF-CHILD) – These are households with no “work eligible” adults, is considered assistance; and time limits do not apply.  This program is designed for households not having a work eligible individual.  No adults receive assistance because the caregiver is a non-needy relative caregiver.

Income Test and Payment Amounts (https://dwss.nv.gov/pdf/EP_Man_A-1000.pdf, https://dwss.nv.gov/TANFFacts.html#DWSSincome):

The gross income test is 275% of the Federal Poverty Level.  This test will be applied to all NNRC households at initial eligibility, when a change of countable income is reported, at the Review of Eligibility if new or increased countable income is reported or a new household member who is related to the child(ren) and has countable income is reported.

The countable gross earned and unearned income will be determined according to current TANF policy of all adults and children in the household with a relationship (by blood or marriage) to the child(ren) for whom assistance has been requested.

● Earned income disregards and work expense are not applied and TANF assistance is exempt

All adult household members whose income is countable in the gross income test, who did not sign the application form, are required to sign an Interface Consent, Form 2179-EE, allowing DWSS to interface with other federal and state records for eligibility and income verification.

If the total countable gross income is below the 275% income test, only the child(ren)’s, income and resources are used to determine the TANF Kinship Care eligibility and payment.  If the child has no income, you should receive the maximum payment per child.
The following table provides a guide to income levels and maximum payment amounts. A maximum payment is issued when there is no countable income.

TANF Need Standard and Payment Allowance

Household
Size
130% of
Poverty
100% Need
Standard
Payment
Allowance
TANF
NNRC 275%
Poverty Level
Non-Parent NNRC
Payment Allowance
1 $1,210 $698 $253 $2,560 $417
2 $1,639 $946 $318 $3,468 $476
3 $2,068 $1,193 $383 $4,375 $535
4 $2,497 $1,441 $448 $5,283 $594
5 $2,926 $1,688 $513 $6,190 $654
6 $3,355 $1,936 $578 $7,098 $713
7 $3,784 $2,183 $643 $8,005 $772
8 $4,213 $2,413 $708 $8,913 $831

For Each Additional Household Member Add:

  $429 $248 $65 $908 $59

 

Health Insurance for Children (https://dwss.nv.gov/TANFFacts.html#DWSSans-02):

Household’s who apply for TANF and are also interested in medical assistance, must also apply for TANF-Related Medicaid (TRM).

Medical coverage through other Medicaid programs such as Children’s Health Assurance Program (CHAP) is available to minor children and pregnant women.

The state also offers the Nevada Check Up Program to children who do not qualify for CHAP.

Application Process (https://dwss.nv.gov/TANFFacts.html#DWSSans-03):

Apply online or at the office closest to you- if you do not go to the right district office staff will inform you of the correct office location- so call first to confirm. If you ask, staff will accept your application and forward it to the correct office.

IMPORTANT: WRITE NNRC/CHILD ONLY on the TOP OF YOUR APPLICATION!! This will hopefully help avoid any mistakes where your application is rejected because it is unclear you are not asking for assistance for yourself.

 

Belrose District Office
700 Belrose Street
Las Vegas, NV 89107
(702) 486-1646 – (702) 486-1628 (fax)

Flamingo District Office
3330 Flamingo Road, Suite 55
Las Vegas, NV 89121
(702) 486-9400 (main) – (702) 486-9401 (fax)
(702) 486-9540 (fax)

Henderson District Office
520 Boulder Highway
Henderson, NV 89015
(702) 486-5000 – (702) 486-1270 (fax)

Nellis District Office
611 N Nellis Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 89110
(702) 486-4828 – (702) 486-4737 (fax)

Owens District Office
1040 W Owens Avenue
Las Vegas, NV 89106
(702) 486-1899 – (702) 486-1802 (fax)

Pahrump District Office
1840 Pahrump Valley Road
Pahrump, NV 89048
(775) 751-7400 – (775) 751-7404 (fax)

 

Documents Needed for Application (https://dwss.nv.gov/TANFFacts.html#DWSSans-16):

You need proof of the information provided, so it’s very helpful to bring as many of the following items as you can:

  1. Proof of residency (lease agreement, rent receipt, mortgage, utility bills).
  2. A Nevada driver’s license or other identification (ID).
  3. A social security card or proof you have applied for one.
  4. Proof of birth for all persons applying for assistance.
  5. Proof of citizenship for all household members.
  6. Marriage and/or divorce decree.
  7. Proof of school attendance for school age children.
  8. Proof of income received, such as pay stubs or a statement from your employer, Social Security Administration, child support payments, loans, etc.
  9. Latest bank statements and proof of other assets such as vehicles, property.
  10. Verification of household composition (who lives in the home and their relationship to the child(ren)).
  11. Verification of subsidized housing assistance.

Child Support Enforcement (https://dwss.nv.gov/TANFFacts.html#DWSSans-12):

All cases for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and medical programs where the adult and child(ren) receive Medicaid must be referred for Child Support Enforcement. : The responsible relative caregiver who is applying for or receiving TANF NEON or Child Only cash assistance must cooperate with the  Child Support Enforcement Program (CSEP) requirements by:

  1. Surrendering and endorsing all support and/or medical support payments to the state after TANF NEON or Child Only cash benefits are approved.
  2. Providing information on the non-custodial parent (NCP);
  3. Participating in efforts to locate the NCP (absent parent);
  4. Establishing paternity when necessary;
  5. Establishing a child support order;

Failure to cooperate without good cause, will result in the denial or termination of TANF NEON, Child ONLY and/or TANF-Related Medicaid (TRM) for all household members. Medicaid from another program will be considered for the child(ren). If the responsible adult is a pregnant woman, she will continue to receive pregnancy related Medicaid coverage during her pregnancy.

The relative caregiver has the right to claim “good cause”, and request a determination of its validity, for not cooperating with CSEP.

Questions?

If you have general questions for Foster Kinship please call 702-546-9988 during our helpline hours 2-5 PM  PST on Tuesdays, or email info@fosterkinship.org.

For questions regarding qualification, your specific family circumstances, or application specific questions please contact your welfare office.

Guardianship Resources in Nevada

June 12, 2012 Posted by Ali

If you are caring for your relative and foresee it will be longer than a few weeks, you may want to establish legal standing so that you are able to protect the child, provide some stability and be able to make medical and educational decisions for the child. One way relatives can pursue legal standing is through guardianship, depending on the specific circumstances of your situation*.

In Clark County, guardianship cases are handled by Family Court- a division of the Eighth Judicial District. The laws governing guardianship are covered in Chapter 159 of the Nevada Revised Statues.

What is guardianship? A guardian is one person agreeing to be responsible for another person, another person and their estate, or another person’s estate. A guardianship of the person allows the legal guardian the ability to make legal decisions regarding schooling, medical care, religion and other aspects of day-to-day life.

Outside of adoption, guardianship is the safest, most stable arrangement for a relative raising a child. It provides legal and physical custody. It is the legal transfer of custody to someone other than a parent.

Guardianship does not terminate parental rights, but it does suspend them. The advantage to guardianship is control. It grants the guardian the legal authority to enroll the child in school, consent to medical treatment, living situations (within the state), and make many other decisions.

Guardianship has some downsides as well. The cost to petition the court for guardianship, especially if you are using a lawyer, and/or your petition is contested, can be expensive. In addition there are emotional risks. You must prove that it is in the child’s best interest to be with you, which means you are building a case against the parent.

In Nevada there are two guardianship options to consider:

  • Six Month Temporary Guardianship: NV law allows for an informal type of guardianship that does not require court approval. The parents of the minor child can fill out this form which appoints a temporary guardian. Temporary guardianships can be used for school and medical purposes. They can be renewed after the six months, and are renewal and terminable at will of the parent. Click here to download a Short-Term Guardianship form and instructions from the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada. This type of guardianship works if you have a good relationship with the child’s parents, if the child’s parents consent, and if it is a short term situation.
  • Court Ordered Guardianship: A legal guardianship requires a court order and it is a more complex legal process best done with the support of a lawyer. If you don’t follow the correct process of filing and notifying the right individuals your petition will not be granted.  However, it is possible to do it yourself, provided you have the right information. The Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada has free classes and resources.  Once appointed, a guardian must do what is necessary to provide the ward (child in care) with proper care, maintenance, education and support. This includes food, clothing, shelter, necessities, seeking child support from the parents, authorizing medical care, and ensuring proper education and training. The guardians must file an annual report with the court. Guardianship is terminated upon the death of the ward, 18th birthday or high school graduation, if the court feels the guardian is no longer necessary, if the ward moves to a different state, or if a parent petitions the court for termination of guardianship and the court decides to terminate.

GUARDIANSHIP RESOURCES

Clark County:

Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada

*Guardianship options may not apply if you are caring for the child after Child Protective Services became involved. If you are working with the Clark County Department of Family Services, you are considered a foster parent, and will not be able to pursue guardianship on your own timeline (although it may be something pursued by DFS). Please review information for relative foster parenting. For information on licensing and kinship foster parenting, you should contact the DFS social worker assigned to your case.

For guardianship questions, please contact the appropriate resources above, or email or call Foster Kinship at (702) KIN-9988 for assistance and additional resources.

Foster Kinship offers free support groups for people who are raising their relative’s children. We understand the multifaceted legal, emotional, and financial difficulties that come with the role. Please join us July 14th from 2:00-3:00 in Conference Room A at 5030 South Paradise Road, Las Vegas 89119.

 
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