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LaHood: New Data Crucial to Supporting Kinship Provider Care for Vulnerable Children

March 13, 2023

Washington, D.C.- Representative Darin LaHood (R-IL) issued the following statement on the release of the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report Child Welfare: HHS Is Taking Steps to Help States Support Relative Caregivers with Evidence-Based Programs (GAO-23-105624), in response to a bipartisan joint request.

In June 2019, then-Chairman Davis and the late then-Ranking Member Jackie Walorski requested GAO provide information about how states are investing in kinship navigator programs and using federally appropriated dollars to evaluate kinship navigator programs in their states.

“I am grateful to the late-Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (R-IN) and Congressman Danny Davis (D-IL) for their bipartisan leadership to strengthen kinship navigator programs, support relative caregivers, and seek out evidence-based solutions to foster care and child welfare challenges. The GAO report offers extensive data and analysis that underscores how kinship placements play an important role in reducing behavioral and mental health challenges and trauma for young people in the foster care system. A strong family is vital to the growth and education of our children and preservation of vibrant communities.”

-Chairman of the Work and Welfare Subcommittee, Rep. Darin LaHood (R-IL)

In 2022, 2.2 million children lived with kin caregivers – grandparents, adult siblings, other relatives, or close family friends – nearly 60 percent of whom were living with a grandparent head of household.

Kinship navigator programs help kinship providers access the support and services they need to safely care for children in their care. Kinship placements reduce trauma by keeping families together and by reducing the number of placements a child will experience during their time in the child welfare system.

GAO’s report will help inform the Committee’s work on child welfare programs included in Title IV-B of the Social Security Act, as well as efforts to build the evidence-base for kinship navigator programs across the country.