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In Maryland, a person assuming care of a relative’s child is referred to as a kinship caregiver. There are two types of kinship care: formal and informal.
- Formal Kinship Care: the child has come to the attention of the State and is now in the custody of the State but is placed with a kinship parent or caregiver.
- Informal Kinship Care: the child's parent(s) voluntarily placed the child in the care of a relative by blood or marriage. Legal custody is not required.
Read the Law: Md. Code, Family Law § 5-534.
Read the Regulations: Code of Maryland Regulations 13A.08.05.00
“Kinship care” means the continuous, 24-hour care and supportive services provided for a minor child placed by the Department of Human Services (DHS) in the home of a kinship parent or a kinship caregiver.
Read the law: Md. Code, Family Law § 5-501(e)
A “kinship parent” is an individual who is related by blood or marriage within five degrees of consanguinity or affinity to a child who is in the care, custody, or guardianship of a local department of social services and with whom the child may be placed for temporary or long-term care other than adoption. When selecting a placement that is in the best interests of a child in need of out-of-home placement, the local department of social services must take specified measures to prioritize placing the child with a kinship parent. A kinship parent may not be younger than age 18.
A “kinship caregiver” is an individual with whom a child who is in the care, custody, or guardianship of of a local department of social services may be placed for temporary or long-term care other than adoption, and who is approved by the local department of social services. A kinship caregiver may not be younger than age 21.
A local department of social services may approve an individual as a kinship caregiver IF:
- the individual is related to the child by blood or marriage beyond five degrees of consanguinity or affinity under the civil law or rule or is a close family friend of the child or the child’s family;
- the individual has a strong familial or other significant bond to the child or the child’s family;
- the individual has maintained regular contact with the child or the child’s family sufficient to demonstrate strong familiarity with the child’s activities and daily needs; AND
- placement with the individual is in the child’s best interest.
When selecting a placement that is in the best interests of the child, the first priority is to attempt to place the child with a kinship parent. If no kinship parent is located at the time of the initial placement, then DHS can place the child with a kinship caregiver as an alternative to foster care. If a kinship caregiver is located after a child has been placed in a foster care setting, DHS may, if it is in the best interest of the child, place the child with a kinship caregiver.
Read the law: Md. Code, Family Law § 5-534
If you provide care for a relative child (for 24 hours a day, seven days a week), you may be eligible to receive certain benefits.
- Food Stamps
- Child Care
- Social Security Benefits
- Medical Assistance
- Temporary cash assistance grant
Your local Department of Social Services can provide more information about benefits.
Consent of Health Care Affidavit:
- Provides relative caregivers with documentation to make medical decisions for the child.
- Contact your local health department or local social services department for this form.
Medical Information Sheet:
- Useful tool to gather and organize information about the child.
- Access information sheet online.
- Assists relative caregivers with enrolling child in school.
- Allows relative caregivers to advocate for child in school matters.
- Access affidavit online.