A kinship caregiver is an adult who cares for a child full-time when the parents cannot. In Ohio, a kinship caregiver can be any relative or nonrelative with a long-term relationship to the child or child’s family.
The Kinship Support Program (KSP) gives money to eligible kinship caregivers to care for kin children. The monthly payments are $12.10 per day, per child for up to 6 months.
Eligibility for KSP
To be eligible for KSP, the child and caregiver must both meet the KSP criteria.
To be eligible for KSP, the child must be:
- In agency custody. The child must be in the temporary, permanent or legal custody of Childrens Services. Youth placed in a Planned Permanent Living Arrangement (PPLA) are eligible for KSP. Youth enrolled in Bridges are not in Childrens Services custody, so Bridges youth are not eligible for KSP.
- Placed with a kinship caregiver. The child must be placed with a kinship caregiver. The kinship caregiver may live in another state, as long as the agency with custody is in Ohio.
To be eligible for KSP, the kinship caregiver must:
- Be an adult. The caregiver must be 18 years or older.
- Not be a foster caregiver. Licensed foster caregivers are not eligible for KSP.
- Not have legal custody. Kinship caregivers who have a custody order from a court are not eligible for KSP.
You do not have to apply for KSP. The Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System (SACWIS) automatically identifies eligible caregivers.
Becoming a foster parent
The KSP gives temporary support to kinship caregivers for up to 6 months. During your KSP time, you can consider becoming a licensed foster parent. Kinship caregivers are not required to become licensed foster parents. Kinship foster parents receive per diem payments for each child placed in their care.
To become a foster parent, follow these steps:
- Learn about foster parenting. There are more legal requirements to become a foster caregiver than there are to become a kinship caregiver. These requirements include more detailed home visits, safety inspections, references, training and more. Learn more about the differences between kinship care and foster care from ODJFS.
- Choose a foster care agency. To become a foster parent, you must choose a foster care agency. Here is a list of agencies in Ohio. Look for an agency near you. Before choosing an agency, do research. Ask what steps the agency requires. Find out when the agency can start your homestudy. Find out how the agency takes questions (email, phone call or text) and how long they take to respond.
- Complete the inquiry form. After you choose an agency, complete the inquiry form on the ODJFS website.
- Complete an application. The application asks for your demographic information and historical information.
- Complete a homestudy. The homestudy includes home visits, medical statements, financial statements, background checks, safety audits and fire inspections. The homestudy can last several months. The agency can request faster criminal background checks and can ask ODJFS to waive the homestudy’s non-safety requirements.
- Complete recertification. You must complete recertification every 2 years to continue being a foster parent.
For more information about becoming a foster parent, visit the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services website.
Other Ohio benefits
OhioKAN helps kinship and post-adoptive families find resources and support for placement. OhioKAN does not give money directly to families, but it can help you find resources and can help you apply for benefits.
Kinship caregivers who qualify can apply for SNAP (“food stamps”) and Medicaid. All children in Childrens Services custody have Medicaid automatically, but the kinship caregiver and their other household members do not.
Eligibility for SNAP and Medicaid benefits is based on your household size and your income. You can choose if you include your kinship child as a "household" member for eligibilty purposes.
- Household size. The number of people in your household impacts the maximum income allowed to receive benefits. Bigger households can have higher household income and receive benefits. The number of people in your household determines your SNAP benefit’s amount. Bigger households are eligible for bigger benefits. You may choose to include or exclude your kin child from the household size count.
- Total household income. Your total household income includes every household member’s income. There are two types of income: earned income and unearned income. Earned income includes wages earned through a job or trade. Unearned income includes income you didn't get from working, including child support, spousal support, need-based cash assistance, and cash benefits like Social Security or Workers Compensation. If you include your kin child in the household count, then their KSP payments count as unearned income for your household. If the KSP moves your income above the eligibility threshold, your household becomes ineligible for SNAP and Medicaid.
The Ohio Works First (OWF) “Child-only” program provides cash payments to help support the kinship child. OWF “Child-only” eligibility is based on the child’s placement status, not the caregiver’s income. Kinship caregivers are ineligible to receive both OWF “Child-only” benefits and KSP benefits for the same child at the same time. When your KSP payments end, you may apply for OWF “Child-only” benefits.
The Kinship Permanency Incentive (KPI) program gives money to help kinship caregivers that have legal custody of the child. Participating in KSP does not affect your eligibility for KPI if you end up getting legal custody of the kin child. Learn more about KPI.
The Kinship Caregiver Program may provide child care support and other necessities, like cribs. For information about the Kinship Caregiver Program, contact your county Department of Job and Family Services. You can find their contact information on this page under "Local Government and Community Resources."
Learn more about Ohio benefits programs.
More help with KSP
If you have questions about the Kinship Support Program or KSP payments, call ODJFS at (866) 886-3537, option 4 or email [email protected].
If you believe a payment is incorrect, call SACWIS at (800) 686-1580 (choose option 3, then option 5), or email at [email protected].