June 19, 1996


Department of Health and Family Services
Division of Children and Family Services
Division of Economic Support


DCS Area Administrators/Assistant Area Administrators
DES Area Administrators/Assistant Area Administrators
Bureau Directors/Section Chiefs
County Board Chairpersons
County Child Support Agency Directors
County Departments of Community Programs Directors
County Departments of Developmental Disabilities Services Directors
County Departments of Human Services Directors
County Departments of Social Services Directors
JOBS Administrative Agencies
Program Office Directors/Section Chiefs
Tribal Chairpersons/Human Services Facilitators
Tribal Economic Support Directors


Susan N. Dreyfus
Division of Children and Family Services


J. Jean Rogers
Division of Economic Support


Kinship Care Under the Wisconsin Works (W-2) Program

As you are aware, the Wisconsin Works Program (hereinafter referred to as W-2) will have a major effect on the provision of benefits to citizens of the State of Wisconsin. W-2 will also affect the manner in which payments are made -- and in what situations those payments will be made -- to individuals who are caring for minor relatives.

Presently, if a person provides care to a minor relative, that person may apply to the local economic support office for a Non-Legally Responsible Relative (NLRR) payment under the AFDC program. There are no qualifications for these grants other than that the person meet the statutory definition of a relative. The current NLRR payment is $248 per month.

Under W-2, NLRR will no longer exist. It will be replaced by the Kinship Care Program created under s. 48.57(3m), Stats. The program will be operated by the County Department of Social or Human Services or Tribal child welfare program rather than economic support. At the present time, implementation policies are being developed by the Department through a work group comprised of staff and managers of our Divisions and county representatives. As a result, additional information will be forthcoming in the near future, but we wanted to provide you with as much information as possible at this time.

The following information describes the Kinship Care Program:

  1. Funding.  Funds for the costs of the assessments which the county must make and for the payments to the Kinship Care provider will be distributed to counties through addenda to the state/county contract. At this point, the amounts to be provided to counties and the manner for determining those allocations has not been decided. The statutory language also allows the Department to contract with the tribes for the provision of Kinship Care payments on the reservations.

  2. Definition of Relative. For purposes of this program, a relative is defined as "a stepparent, brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, first cousin, nephew, niece, aunt, uncle or any person of a preceding generation as denoted by the prefix of grand, great or great-great, whether by consanguinity [i.e., blood], direct affinity [i.e., marriage] or legal adoption, or the spouse of any person named [above], even if the marriage is terminated by death or divorce." (Ref. S.48.57(3m)(a)2.)

  3. Payment. The monthly payment under the Kinship Care program will be $215. (Ref. s.48.57(3m)(am))

  4. Procedure for Applying for a Kinship Care Grant. The following steps must be taken prior to the approval of a Kinship Care grant:
  1. The Kinship Care relative must apply to the county for the grant.

  2. The county must determine that:

(1)  there is a need for the child to be placed with the relative;

(2)  the placement with the relative is in the best interest of
       the child.

  1. The county must determine that the child meets one or more of the criteria under s. 48.13 (CHIPS) or 938.13 (JIPS) or that the child would be at risk of meeting one or more of those criteria if the child were to remain in his or her home.

  2. The county department must conduct a criminal record check of the Kinship Care relative, any employees or prospective employees of the Kinship Care relative who would have regular contact with the child for whom the payment is made, and any other adult resident of the home to determine if any of these individuals has any arrests or convictions that could adversely affect the child or the kinship relative’s ability to care for the child. (See Attachment #1 to this memo for more information on the criminal record check.)

  3. The individuals named in Section d., above, attest that they have no arrests or convictions that could adversely affect the child or the relative’s ability to care for the child.

  4. The Kinship Care relative must cooperate with the county agency in the application process, including applying for other forms of assistance for which the kinship relative may be eligible.

  5. The county agency must refer the parent or parents of the child for whom the payment is made to the county child support agency.

  6. The parent of the child for whom the payment is made must initiate or continue health insurance for the child. Regardless, the child will be categorically eligible for Medical Assistance.

  7. A relative who receives a Kinship Care payment is not eligible for a foster care payment. If the relative subsequently receives a foster home license, a foster care payment need not be made by the agency unless the agency placed the child in the home. Performing the responsibilities required under the Kinship Care program, as described above, shall not be interpreted as a placement of the child by the county agency.

  8. The county agency must review the situation no less frequently than every 12 months to ensure whether items a. through f. continue to exist. If the conditions do not exist, the county department must discontinue the Kinship Care grant payment. (Ref. s. 48.57(3m)(am), (b), (c), (cm), (d), and (e)).

  9. The relative must notify the county agency as soon as possible if the child returns home or resides elsewhere. Payment in these situations will parallel the procedures currently used for foster care payments to licensed foster parents.

The Department is currently developing standards to be used in determining whether there is a need for the child to be placed with the relative and whether the placement is in the best interest of the child. Drafts of these standards will be submitted to you for review in the near future.

  1. Criminal Record Check. See Attachment #1 to this memo.

  2. Payments are Advances. Kinship Care payments are to be provided prior to or at the beginning of the month during which the relative will provide kinship care.

  3. Reporting to the Department. Discussions are currently being held relating to the issues of both fiscal and programmatic reporting. No decisions have yet been made. The final determination may be dependent, in part, on the nature of the waiver approvals received from the federal government. It is our intent, in any case, to keep reporting to an absolute minimum.

  4. Effective Date for Transition from NLRR to Kinship Care. As currently written in statute, Kinship Care will replace NLRR for all new cases after July 1, 1996 and for all existing cases at the time of the regularly scheduled six month review. In some cases, the transfer of existing cases may not be possible at the six month review because of the now-required assessments, but all such transfers of existing cases must be completed by June 30, 1997.

However, since implementation of the Kinship Care Program is predicated on the receipt of federal waivers and since those waivers have not yet been received, the actual implementation date may be extended. We are proposing that the actual implementation take effect on the first day of the fourth month following approval of the waivers. The final implementation date of July 1, 1997 for all transfers from NLRR to Kinship Care, however, should remain in effect.

As noted previously, we will provide you with additional information on assessment standards, effective dates and other parts of the Kinship Care program as they are developed.



DCS Area Administrator


Mark S. Mitchell
Out-of-Home Care Manager
Bureau of Programs and Policies
Division of Children and Family Services
(608) 267-7287



County Foster Care Coordinators
Directors, Private Child Placing Agencies
Division of Youth Services
WI Federation of Foster Parent Organizations

Criminal Record Checks For Kinship Care (PDF 16 kb)

Last Revised:  June 16, 2008

The Department of Children and Families, protecting children, strengthening families, building communities.