Each Relative Caregiver Program must follow the guidelines
outlined in the Relative Caregiver Program Operations Manual.
Eligibility Guidelines for Participation
Relative Caregiver Program.
(a) The child(ren)
must have been placed in the temporary legal custody of the relative caregiver
through an appropriate court of venue.
(b) The relative caregiver must be willing to
take part in a needs assessment.
(c) The relative caregiver must agree to
accept needed support services through the Relative Caregiver
(d) The caregiver must be
able to provide a safe home for related children and be committed to providing
that home as long as is necessary and appropriate.
The relative caregiver must be within the
first, second, or third degree of relationship of the parent or stepparent of
the child. The caregiver may be related through blood, marriage or adoption.
(3) aunts and uncles,
(5) great-aunts and great-uncles,
(6) first cousins, or
(f) The relative caregiver shall
not have a total adjusted household income that exceeds more than twice the
current Federal Poverty Guideline based on the size of the family unit.
Household income will be determined by including the income of the primary
relative caregiver, the spouse of the primary relative caregiver, and all
(g) As specified
by DCS, all families served through the Relative Caregiver Program must
physically and legally reside within the county or counties identified in the
proposal and contract.
Guidelines for Client Intake and Service
(a) Families may be referred
to the Relative Caregiver Program by DCS, hospitals, Department of Human
Services (DHS), community mental health services, schools, juvenile or family
courts, Community Services Agency, private agencies, as well as other sources.
Self-referrals are also allowable. It is the intent of DCS that fifty-percent
of all families participating will be referred directly from the Department of
Children's Services (DCS) or the Community Services Agency (CSA).
(b) Each Relative Caregiver Program is
responsible for determining eligibility for participation. Program eligibility
must be re-determined on an annual basis. The program must work to ensure that
financial aid and services are provided to kinship families in an equitable,
lawful, compliant and respectful manner. When families are determined
ineligible, appropriate referrals for service will be made to ensure safety and
permanence for children in relative care. DCS or the Department of Finance and
Administration will monitor Relative Caregiver Program determination of
eligibility through on-site, Case File reviews. . Any reimbursement made to the
Grantee on behalf of a participant that is later deemed to be ineligible will
be recovered through the next monthly billing. If there are no more billings
the Grantee shall be notified of the overpayment and required to refund the
(c) Because collaboration is
encouraged, each Relative Caregiver Program must develop a clear client intake
and referral process with the Department of Children's Services and the local
juvenile or family court. Additional children and families seeking financial
aid and services should receive this support as permitted by funding.
(d) The RCP staff and the family must
collaboratively complete a Family Needs Scale, a family needs assessment, and
develop a service plan.
compliance with TCA §
37-1-403, if the Relative
Caregiver Program staff believe it is not in the best interests of the
child(ren) to remain in the home of the relative caregiver, appropriate steps
must be taken to ensure the safety of the child(ren).
(f) Once a service plan has been developed,
the Relative Caregiver Program staff must help the family achieve the goals
outlined in the agreed upon service plan.
(g) Each program must develop and document a
clear plan for client intake and service plan delivery.
(h) The Family Needs Scale must be used by
each Relative Caregiver Program as a pre-post test measure to assess family
(i) Programs may provide
individual and family counseling, respite care, legal services, financial aid,
recreation, homemaker services, transportation, advocacy, support groups,
training, mediation, family conferencing, case management, mentoring, child
care and children's activity groups as needed for eligible kinship families.
These services should be made available to eligible kinship families as needed.
These may not duplicate already existing supports and services within the
Guidelines for Service Delivery
(a) The pilot
program lead agencies may authorize service providers through a subcontract to
administer services. These subcontracts must be approved by DCS. Minority
subcontractors are highly encouraged, as available.
(b) Relative caregivers participating in the
Relative Caregiver Program must be given an opportunity to provide feedback as
to the effectiveness of the service received. This shall include the option to
(c) Each Relative
Caregiver Program must have a written procedure for use when relative
caregivers are not in agreement with their determination of eligibility. This
procedure must be respectful of kinship families and help families understand
other services and supports available to them. This procedure must outline a
due process and be approved by the Department of Children's Services.
Guidelines for Personnel
(a) Each Relative Caregiver Program utilizing
volunteers shall have written procedures governing the recruitment, training,
supervision, and evaluation of volunteers. Volunteers shall have a written job
description, orientation to their duties, and training.
Each Relative Caregiver Program must
comply with the equal employment opportunity Executive Order 1979
-4 and civil
Caregiver Program paid or volunteer staff may not solicit or accept gratuities,
favors or anything of monetary value from program participants.
(d) Relative Caregiver Program paid or
volunteer staff may not offer for sale any type of merchandise or
(e) Relative Caregiver
Program paid or volunteer staff may not encourage the acceptance of children
and their relative caregiver based on any particular belief or philosophy when
Relative Caregiver Program shall employ competent, diverse, culturally, and
ethnically appropriate staff to provide and coordinate services in compliance
with the contractual agreement between each Relative Caregiver Program and the
Department of Children's Services.
(g) Each Relative Caregiver Program shall
have an up-to-date written organizational chart clearly defining established
lines of authority.
Relative Caregiver Program shall have clearly defined job descriptions for
(i) A Relative Caregiver
Program staff person shall be designated to have the responsibility of ensuring
that services are available on a day to day basis according to the contract,
governing statutes, and in a manner that best serves children and their
Relative Caregiver Program paid or volunteer staff person who enters the home
of family caregivers must display proper identification, which is an agency
picture identification card.
Every Relative Caregiver Program paid or volunteer staff person must have
background check identification in that person's agency personnel file,
pursuant to the program's contractual agreement with DCS and the DCS Relative
Caregiver Program Operations Manual.
(l) No Relative Caregiver Program may
discriminate against any employee, applicant for employment, or recipient of
service. Each program must clearly post signs in English, and other languages
as may be appropriate, at agency offices and locations where services are
provided, indicating nondiscrimination in hiring, employment practices, and
provision of services.
Guidelines for Data Collection and
(a) Each Relative Caregiver
Program must maintain an accurate, confidential and locked Case File on each
kinship family participating in the program on each participant, which
documents participant identifying data, requests for service, and services
(b) All Relative
Caregiver Program reports and statistics reported require backup documentation.
This record keeping must be done on DCS approved forms, contained within the
Case File, must be legible and available to DCS.
(c) Each Relative Caregiver Program must
report program and financial data as required by DCS.
Guidelines for the Dissemination of
Financial Aid through the Relative Caregiver Program
Children and their relative caregivers
may have special non-recurring needs for financial aid. Meeting these needs
will enable families to provide safe, stable homes for their related children,
a home that supports appropriate growth and development and good health. The
Relative Caregiver Program will provide financial support to all eligible
families with the need for financial aid as funds permit.
1. Payments are designed to meet short-term
needs, crisis situations, or startup costs only. Long-term or ongoing needs may
not be met through the Relative Caregiver Program financial aid.
2. Financial aid may be used to purchase a
wide range of tangible items, supports, services or other needs.
3. Payments may not be made which would
duplicate available existing supports.
4. All financial aid determinations will be
based on written requests for assistance submitted by the Relative Caregiver
Program staff person to a lead agency designee and based on identified needs.
This written request must be contained within the Case File.
5. Each Relative Caregiver Program should
develop, utilize and continuously update an inventory of available services and
supports in their communities to ensure that Project funds are not used to
duplicate existing services.
Each Relative Caregiver Program must maintain adequate support documentation in
the case file to verify contracted and paid for services and expenses actually
7. Monthly stipends or
other regular financial assistance are not available to children and their
relative caregivers through the Relative Caregiver Program. Monthly stipends
may be available in the future to families.
8. Financial aid in the form of direct
payments to families or purchases may be made more than once per year and up to
four times a year, but may not be used for a service need that exceeds 4 months
during the year.
Caregiver Program must organize a Financial Oversight Committee to ensure that
financial aid is provided to kinship families in an equitable, lawful,
compliant and respectful manner.
(i) The names
of potential Financial Oversight Committee members must be submitted to and
approved by the Department of Children's Services. This Financial Oversight
Committee should have at least three (3) members, and include at least one lead
agency representative and at least one person with expertise in the area of
(ii) Financial aid
payments do not have to be pre-approved by the Program Financial Oversight
Committee, but should be reviewed on a monthly basis to ensure fairness and
equity in the dissemination of financial aid as well as compliance with state
law and federal regulations.
This Committee should develop procedures for provision of emergency or
immediate financial aid.
Committee must develop appropriate training to ensure that Relative Caregiver
Program staff are able to effectively define needed financial aid during the
family needs assessment.
Committee must develop an overall plan to ensure kinship families are receiving
needed financial aid. This plan must be documented and approved by the
Department of Children's Services.
Guideline for the Provision of Mental
(a) Mental Health counseling
may be provided using a social model. The provision of medical services or the
dispensation of medication is not permitted.
Guidelines for the Training of Relative
Caregiver Program Staff
Program staff should receive adequate training in the following areas.
1. Although not responsible for making
placement decisions and recommendations, Relative Caregiver Program staff
should be able to evaluate home safety to ensure the continuing appropriateness
of relative placement.
Caregiver Program staff should be able to identify and help relative caregivers
understand the physical and mental developmental patterns, emotional and
behavioral disorders of children.
3. Relative Caregiver Program staff should be
able to observe evidence of prior or current substance abuse by
4. Relative Caregiver
Program staff should be trained to observe the caregivers' physical and mental
5. Relative Caregiver
Program staff should be able to determine the availability of a supportive
extended family system.
Caregiver Program staff should be able to assess caregivers' willingness and
ability to provide a safe, permanent home.
7. Relative Caregiver Program staff should be
able to implement service plan recommendations and to meet any special needs of
the child(ren) in their home.
Relative Caregiver Program staff should be knowledgeable of available private
and public benefits available to kinship families.
9. Relative Caregiver Program staff must
understand the purpose of the program, the role of the Department of Children's
Service relative to this program, philosophy, ethics, policies and procedures
for the program.
Records identifying dates of training and topics covered are to be maintained
in Relative Caregiver Program Staff personnel file.