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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) concerning Kinship Care, Foster Care and Adoption

What is Kinship Care?

Kinship care is the full time care, nurturing and protection of children by relatives, members of their tribes or clans, godparents, stepparents, or any adult who has a kinship bond with a child. This definition is designed to be inclusive and respectful of cultural values and ties of affection. It allows a child to grow to adulthood in a family environment.
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What is Foster Care?

Out-of-home care - or foster care - encompasses the placements and services provided to children and families when children must be removed from their homes because of child safety concerns, as a result of serious parent-child conflict, or to treat serious physical or behavioral health conditions which cannot be addressed within the family. Before a decision is made to remove a child, child welfare staff must make reasonable efforts to safely maintain children with their families, including providing necessary supports and services.
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What is Adoption?

Adoption is the legal process by which a person becomes a lawful member of a family different from their birth family.  Once a final order of adoption has been ruled by a court of law, the adoptive parents gain the same rights and responsibilities as parents whose children are born to them; subsequently, an adopted child gains the same rights as birth children in regard to inheritance, child support, and other legal matters.  In most U.S. jurisdictions, at the time the adoption is finalized, the adopted child's name is legally changed, and the court orders the issuance of a new, amended birth certificate.
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What is Customary Adoption?

Many tribal people say that there is no word for adoption in their language - that is, the practice of terminating parental rights. While traditionally, adoption has been practiced in most tribal communities through ceremony, in tribes did not practice termination of parental rights. Tribal customary adoption is the transfer of custody of a child to adoptive parents without terminating the rights of the birth parents.The practice of 'mainstream' adoption became considered a negative thing due through the historical events of forced assimilation policies; adoption became a tool to break up Indian families and culture. The old way of finding a permanent family through traditional/customary adoption is now being recognized as an important permanency option. A new law in California, the first of its kind in the United States, will allow traditional forms of adoption practiced by Tribes to be recognized by California courts. The law allows, at the Tribe’s option, for Tribal customary adoption to be included as an alternative permanent plan to family reunification throughout the dependency case. The law also provides that when the juvenile court finds that full faith and credit will be extended to the Tribe’s Tribal customary adoption order, the juvenile court will issue a State court order of adoption. It also permits an Indian child who is the subject of a Tribal customary adoption to be eligible for adoption assistance program benefits.
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What is Guardianship?

Caregivers can assume legal guardianship of a child in out-of-home care without termination of parental rights, as is required for an adoption. Legal guardianship is more durable but more complex than transfer of custody to caregivers. Guardianship is most frequently used by relative caregivers who wish to provide a permanent home for the child and maintain relationships with extended family members.
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