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The Ties That Bind

Strengthening, and Reducing Racial Disparities in, Kinship Foster Care in Massachusetts

On November 6, MLRI released a new report, The Ties That Bind.This report addresses how Massachusetts can reform specific policies to advance its commitment to kinship foster care and achieve a higher number of good kinship placements, especially for children of color.

Massachusetts has been an early national leader and pioneer in its commitment to placing children with their extended families when they must be removed from their parents. However, our kinship foster care placement rates are now low in relation to the rest of the country and particularly low for African American and Latino children.  While the Department of Children and Families (DCF) has some strong policies, these policies are not always followed in practice, and budget cuts have undermined some of DCF’s most promising practices in this area.  Also, new national model kinship foster care licensing standards propose a way to update our foster care licensing system to best respond to modern-day realities.  

The Ties that Bind makes the following recommendations for DCF:

  • appoint a kinship care coordinator,
  • implement a presumption in favor of kinship care,
  • review its licensing standards in light of national model standards designed to promote kinship care while keeping children safe,
  • get kin involved as soon as DCF becomes involved with a family,
  • ensure that kinship foster parents are able to access all the state supports to which they are entitled, and
  • build bridges into communities where kin live.

pdf icon Download MLRI's report on strengthening and reducing racial disparities in kinship foster care in Massachusetts.