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Court Dismisses Lawsuit Seeking Higher Kinship Payments

Updated: Aug 5, 2021

Judge Barrett U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio halted a lawsuit initiated in November of 2020 to require the state to establish rate parity between kinship and foster caregivers as a result of D.O. v Glisson.

In 2017, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals determined in D.O. vs. Glisson that children placed with approved relative caregivers were eligible for federal foster payments on the same basis as children placed in licensed foster homes. The Sixth Circuit has jurisdiction over six states of which Ohio is included.

In December 2020, the State Legislature and Governor DeWine established the “Kinship Support Program” which would provide financial payments to the state's kinship caregivers. Under this program, kinship caregivers $10.20 per child per day, the minimum amount in Ohio’s foster care payment range, for up to nine months while they worked to become licensed foster caregivers of the children in their charge.

In Ohio, a child must be removed from his or her home, caseworkers first try to place the child with a family member or close family friend. These placements have grown substantially in recent years. According to a recent factsheet from ODJFS, "it is estimated that nearly 9 percent of all children in Ohio are being raised by kinship caregivers."

Earlier this year, the state asked the judge to dismiss the 2020 lawsuit, arguing the new payment plan brought Ohio into compliance with Glisson. Lawyers representing children in kinship care disagreed, saying the plan doesn’t come close to creating parity.y

Barrett dismissed the case, saying that the disparity is not because the kinship providers are related to the children in their care, but because federal law requires those caregivers “to be fully licensed by the state before a caregiver is eligible for foster care maintenance payments.”

One of the lawyers on the case has publicly stated intent to appeal the dismissal.


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