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Wednesday March 22, 2017

posted by Thomas A. Ebendorf
Tags: In the news 

Recently, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled that approved relatives who have received children placed in their care as a result of a dependency, neglect or abuse cases are entitled to receive money for the financial support of the children from the state. In Kentucky, as in most states, if a child is found to have been neglected or abused, the child many times will need to be removed from the parents or from the home and placed in some sort of temporary foster care arrangement. The law favors placing the children with a relative if the relative’s home is safe and secure. If that can’t be done, then the child can be placed in a licensed foster care facility and maintain a residence there with state support paid to the foster parents. Relatives, on the other hand, have traditionally not been able to get any state support for the care of the children placed with them. This was challenged recently by an aunt who had received placement of two children in her home and never received any payment for their support. The aunt sued the Cabinet for Health & Family Services, claiming that she should be given some financial support for these children and the Court agreed.

The state argued against paying the relative any support money on the grounds that the money was only available for licensed foster care homes and not for approved relative placements. The Court of Appeals essentially said that was a distinction without a difference and that if the Court had approved a relative as a safe and appropriate placement for the child and then closed the case as properly resolved, without granting permanent custody to the relative, then the obligation to pay financial support for this child was on the state, just like it would have been on the state for a licensed foster parent.

This case gives serious financial support to relatives who step up and take responsibility for caring for children who have necessarily been removed from their home because of dependency, neglect or abuse and it should make it easier for relatives to incur this responsibility without undue financial hardship. The case supporting this proposition is D.O.; A.O.; R.O., v. Vickie Yates Brown Glisson, Case No. 16-5461, decided January 27, 2017.