In the beginning group care had a lot of problems mainly because there was a lack of regulation and a shortage of experienced group home operators. Most group homes were managed by competent social workers or religious workers with very little formal training. While the children in such group homes were look after in a positive manner, the child in other group homes were subject to abuse and forced religious participation. In some group homes, children were subject to cruel and inhuman behavior modification techniques. Since there was very little government monitoring, these homes cut back on the basic essentials in order to make a commercial profit. Things are very different today. There are many federal regulations in place and these are strictly enforced. A group home is one with 6 or more children. The objective of group homes is to integrate the children into the local community. The children are enrolled in local schools and closely supervised. These group homes have a counselor on duty 24 hours a day in most cases.
Kinship care refers to full time care of the children by someone with a kinship bond with the child. It could be any adult including relatives, stepparents and godparents. The number of children in kinship care has significantly increased over the last two decades.
In an informal kinship care, the family decides that the child with live with a particular relative or kin. In this type of arrangement, a social worker can help the new family plan for the arrival of the child but the state child welfare agency takes not legal responsibility for the child. The parents continue to have custody of the child and as such there is no need for approval, license or supervision by the state.
In formal kinship care, the court or the child protection agency will place the children with relatives. The child may be separated from the parents because of neglect, abuse or abandonment or because of substance abuse or medical condition of the parent. The agency will have custody of the child while the relative or kin provides full time care.
The federal laws applicable to kinship care include Title IV of the Social Security Act, The Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 and The Indian Child Welfare Act. Kinship care givers are also entitled to certain federal funds including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Social Security Funds.