Closing Keynote: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Region 5 Director Michael Cabonargi discusses Michigan’s new Kinship Care Rule


Shane Ersland


U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Region 5—which includes Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois—Director Michael Cabonargi noted that Michigan recently became the first state to implement its Kinship Care Rule at the 2024 Michigan State of Reform Health Policy Conference last month.

“Michigan has approximately 7,000 foster parents; 42 percent of those are called ‘kin.’ Most of (them) are not licensed as foster parents. So Michigan went through the process with the Administration for Children and Families at HHS to create a licensure system so these kin—who are not their parents, but are typically grandparents who step in when parents are unable to be with the child—[can get licensed]. Those grandparents (weren’t) eligible for federal aid. However, now they are because Michigan passed a kinship rule that makes their licensure process very quick (and) seamless.”

— Cabonargi

The initiative allows child welfare agencies to adopt simpler licensing or approval standards for all kin foster family homes, and requires states to provide kin caregivers with the same level of financial assistance any other foster care provider receives. Cabonargi said the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services has a plan in place to get all kin licensed.   

“That will be a great resource.”

— Cabonargi

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