Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

My relative was left at my home. What do I do next?

First, take a deep breath. You are not alone in this situation. You can do this, and there is help available. Remember, you can create a natural, safe and comfortable environment for the child in your care. If the child in your care is not involved with BCDSS, our informal kin navigator can answer questions about obtaining legal custody and accessing benefits. If the child was placed in your home by a BCDSS caseworker, there is a team of dedicated staff to assist you through the process. A BCDSS formal kin navigator will contact your to provide support and guidance.

What is TCA?

Temporary Cash Assistance (TCA), Maryland’s Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program, provides cash assistance to families with dependent children. As a kinship caregiver, you may be eligible for a TCA “Child-only” grant, which is a cash benefit that is not based on your income. Legal custody of your relative is not required.

You can apply multiple ways:

Can I receive foster parent funds?

Yes, if you become a restrictive foster parent. The child must be committed to BCDSS and the child’s worker will make the referral to the welcome line. You can become provisionally approved while you complete the licensure process including training, home inspection and a background check. A home worker will be assigned to assist you through the process. Once you are approved or licensed, meaning all requirements have been met, you will receive a monthly foster parent payment.

Do I have to go through DSS for guardianships?

No, if the child is not committed to foster care, you can petition family court for guardianship without the involvement of BCDSS. Family court is located at the Clarence M. Mitchell, Jr. Courthouse at 111 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21202.

If the child is committed to foster care, BCDSS will facilitate the guardianship through Juvenile Court located at 300 N. Gay St., Baltimore, MD 21202. Juvenile Court conducts all court hearings for children committed to BCDSS. The child’s case management team will work towards a permanent home for the child to safely exit foster care.

Can I get guardianship without DSS?

Yes, you can petition family court for guardianship as long as the child is not committed to BCDSS. Family court is located at the Clarence M. Mitchell, Jr. Courthouse at 111 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21202. You can also contact our KinCare Center (see contact info below) and speak with an informal kin navigator for guidance and support.

Where do I go for food assistance?

You may be eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits (food assistance).

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps people with lower incomes buy the food they need for good health. If your household passes the program’s eligibility tests, the amount of food benefits you get will depend on the number of people in your household and on how much monthly income is left after certain expenses (deductions) are subtracted.

Apply online at, or in person at BCDSS, or call 1 (800) 332-6347.

There may also be food banks in your local community. Call 2-1-1 Maryland or visit, or contact the Maryland Food Bank online at for more information.

Who is the best person to contact for kinship-related questions?

Whether you are caring for a child who is NOT in foster care (informal kinship care), or if you are caring for a child who is in foster care (formal kinship care), our kinship navigators are available to assist you. Email us at, call us at 443-423-5442, or stop by our new KinCare Center Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. t0 5 p.m. We are located at 2923 E. Biddle St, Baltimore, MD, 21113.

My relative’s guardian passed away. What do I do?

If the guardian was part of the Guardianship Assistance Program, someone from the family can contact the guardianship unit. As long as the subsidy continues, there is a guardianship subsidy coordinator assigned. The unit can be reached at 443-423-5054.