Methods: This presentation will present mixed methods findings (descriptive statistics, content analysis) of child welfare administrators’ (e.g., licensing specialists, licensing supervisors, administrative staff, program directors/officers) responses to a statewide Internet survey (n=144). Surveys were developed by a team of child welfare administrators, child welfare workers, and university researchers.
Results: Overall, 82.5% of administrators were formally trained on the GAP through training specific to their agency or through statewide efforts to train child welfare workers, and the vast majority felt confident in their understanding and ability to explain the GAP to their staff and families. There were some discrepancies in how the GAP was administered across the state in terms of who talks to families about the GAP and in what format (phone, face-to-face), materials for educating families, or support to caregivers applying for the GAP. However, administrators perceived the GAP had a number of strengths in providing financial support to families, extending benefits, providing access to support or resources, and increasing the likelihood of permanency or stability for children. Perceived challenges of the GAP included the complexity and stress of the application for caregivers, that some caregivers did not need resources and were not motivated to apply for the program, uncertainty among caregivers as to why the GAP was helpful or important to their family, as well as some other challenges in licensing caregivers (e.g., criminal background checks, changes to case goals, denied home studies).
Conclusions/Implications: The findings highlight benefits of the program for kinship families, as well as the challenges that administrators face in enacting the GAP that may not be recognized by policymakers, frontline workers, or those directly impacted by policy. These challenges could put pressure on administrators to make decisions that could not only increase the risk of liability for the community-based care agency and the state but more concerningly, negatively influence children’s’ well-being. Recommendations include more research on how policy waivers can be helpful or unhelpful in meeting the needs of children and child welfare agencies and on how the GAP should be discussed with families (who, what, when, etc.); increased communication among child welfare administrators and workers about families interested or eligible for the GAP; and early dissemination of physical and informational resources to families who are navigating decisions around permanent guardianship.