Kinship Care


The Maryland Department of Human Services, in its commitment to vulnerable children and adults recognizes that children belong with families, especially their family of origin when possible. Many grandparents and relatives are taking on responsibility on being kinship caretakers and have stepped forward to care for children whose parents are unable or unwilling to raise them. There are many reasons that a parent may be unwilling or unable to care for their child, including abandonment by parent, death, incarceration, serious illness, substance abuse and military duty.

What is Kinship Care?

Kinship Care (formal) refers when a child comes to the attention of a local department of social service and the department then places a child with the relative caregiver. The relative maintains custody of the child by providing 24 hour care, 7 days per week to the child.

Informal kinship care means a living arrangement in which a relative of a child, who is not in the care, custody, or guardianship of the local department of social services, provides for the care and custody of the child due to a serious family hardship. Legal custody is not required.

Do I Qualify as a Kinship Caregiver?

A Kinship Caregiver is related by blood or marriage within five degrees of consanguinity or affinity to a child who is in your physical care.

What Benefits are Available?

As a Maryland resident and relative caregiver, you can apply on behalf of the child for the below benefits:

  • Temporary Cash Assistance “Child Only Grant”
  • Child Support
  • Medicaid
  • Food Stamps
  • Child Care
  • Maryland Energy Assistance Program (MEAP)
  • Office of Home Energy Programs (OHEP)

To Apply

  • Submit an application on-line at myDHR
  • Submit an application for Medicaid or Maryland Health Connection (MHCP) on-line at the Maryland Health Connection
  • Call or write your local department of social services and request an application
  • Go in person to your local department of social services for an application; you may complete the application while there, however there might be a wait before you are interviewed.
    As part of the interview process, the interviewer MUST complete a child support order.

Other Benefits

Consent for Healthcare Affidavit

Available to relative caregiver who does not have legal custody or guardianship of the relative child in their care. The caregiver must be able to verify relationship to the child and that the child’s parent(s) is not available. To receive this form, contact your local health department or your local department of social services.

Education Affidavit

Provides relative caregivers assistance in enrolling the child in school and allows the relative caregiver to be an advocate for the child in school matters when the parent(s) is not available. To receive this form, contact the child’s school.

Related Benefits

To Apply for Social Security Survivor’s Benefits or Supplemental Security Income visit the Social Security Administration

Other Services

The Guardianship Assistance Program

Provides relative caregivers on-going financial assistance who are seeking to become the legal guardian for a child who is in the custody of the local department of social services (foster care). Guardianship Assistance Program provides legal stability and permanency for a child who is unable to return home to their biological parents and where adoption has been ruled out as an option. This program allows relative caregivers to take full legal responsibility for children without terminating parental rights. The relative caregiver must be an approved kinship provider or foster family for the child for the last six consecutive months prior to receiving guardianship while receiving case management and supportive services from the local department of social services. The relative caregiver must enter into a guardianship assistance agreement with the local department of social services prior to the court awarding the relative caregiver guardianship.

Maryland’s Kinship Navigator Services

An information and referral program that supports kinship caregivers who are caring for their minor relative (s), who are unable to remain safe in the care of their parents. Kinship Navigator Services targets kinship caregivers who were not involved in the child welfare system as an outreach prevention strategy that promotes safety, permanency and well-being.

Local department of social services have a designated Kinship Navigator, who or a community vendor who is available to provide services to relative caregivers. Kinship Navigators are knowledge about their community resources and services available in their respective jurisdiction. For more information, please contact your local department of social services.