Definitions of Various Parenting Roles

What is a Resource Family?

Resource families are kinship or relative caregivers, foster parents, respite providers, and/or adoptive parents. They provide care to children and teens served by the child welfare system. They are a “resource” to the child or teen and often to the primary family. Resource parents may give care for as briefly as a day or as long as a lifetime.

Resource parents do all of the daily tasks that any other parent would, providing children and teens with affection and guidance and making sure that all of their basic needs are met. However, resource parents do much more than the basics of caregiving. They play an essential role in the protection and nurturing of children and teens that have experienced child abuse or neglect. During very challenging times in the lives of young people, resource parents help them heal from trauma and loss. They work to ensure that children and teens have permanent families by assisting them in going home to birth parents or relatives. When reunification with a child’s family of origin is not possible, resource parents help the child or teen transition to an adoptive home or a long-term foster placement, often becoming that lifelong family themselves.

Resource families work closely with agency staff and other professionals, honor cultural ties, and partner with primary families and agency staff to help children and teens achieve healing, belonging, and stability.

Several types of resource parents provide care to Ohio’s children and teens. Here are some definitions:

Kinship Caregiver

According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2,677,000 children were in the care of relatives between 2016 and 2018. Countless others were cared for someone with a close connection to the child or the child’s family. Collectively, these caregivers are called kin. 

Kinship caregivers provide temporary or permanent homes in response to the needs of children whose parents are unable to care for them. Kinship Care includes relationships established through an informal arrangement, a legal custody or guardianship order, a relative foster care placement, or adoption. 

Kinship care is the considered the most desirable out-of-home placement option for children who cannot live with their parents, as it offers children stability, the chance to maintain their sense of belonging, and the ability to remain connected with their family’s culture and traditions.

Kinship caregivers have proven they can ensure that children are safe and able to reach their potential, despite barriers that include navigating legal processes and bureaucratic red tape. In addition, kin are often challenged by a sudden and sometimes unexpected placements, with little time to prepare and few resources or supports to assist them in caring for children who have likely suffered the trauma of abuse, neglect, or abandonment. 

We hope the materials on this site will be of assistance to Ohio’s kinship caregivers who have stepped up to raise children whose parents cannot care for them.

Foster Parents

Foster parents provide temporary care to children and teens until they reunify with a primary parent, move to kinship care or independent living, or are adopted or placed in legal custody or a planned permanent living arrangement with the foster family or another family.

Ohio recognizes several types of licensed foster homes:

  • Family Foster Caregivers are required to meet basic licensing regulations and be certified, which allows them to provide care for children and teens with a variety of needs.
  • Treatment Foster Caregivers are required to meet additional licensing standards and are trained specifically to provide in-home treatment services to children and teens with special or exceptional needs.
  • Medically Fragile Foster Caregivers provide specialized medical services to children and teens with intensive health care needs.
  • Pre-Adoptive Infant Foster Caregivers provide very short-term care for infants who have been voluntarily placed in the care of an agency by their birth parents while an adoptive placement is considered or arranged.

Adoptive Parents

In an adoption, a child makes a permanent move from one family to another. Legally, adoption terminates the parental rights of the primary parent(s) and transfers those rights to the adoptive parent(s). Adoptive parents have the same legal rights and responsibilities regarding their adopted children as if the children had been born to them, and adoptive children enjoy the same legal relationship to their adoptive parents as biological children. In Ohio, relatives or their current foster parents adopt the majority of the majority of children and teens adopted from foster care.

Some children in foster care do not have a family to adopt them, even though their biological parents’ parental rights have been terminated. These children are waiting to be matched with a forever family. Many of them are school-aged children and teens, part of a sibling group that would like to be adopted by the same family, and/or have “special needs,” such as physical, developmental or emotional challenges. These waiting children have one thing in common: They all need loving, supportive forever families.

Respite Provider

Respite care is provided to relieve a caregiver of the responsibilities of caring for a child on a short-term basis. Respite caregivers may be licensed foster parents or other adults who have met approval standards set by their agency. Respite care is arranged through public and private child welfare agencies and other social service systems.

Additional Information

Children Services Definitions can be found at Ohio Children Services Definitions

“Adoptive parent” is a person who adopts a person legally available for adoption.

“Foster caregiver” means a person holding a valid foster home certificate issued by ODJFS

 “Foster home” means a private residence in which children are received apart from their parents, guardian, or legal custodian, by an individual reimbursed for providing the children non-secure care, supervision, or training twenty-four hours a day. “Foster home” does not include care provided for a child in the home of a person other than the child’s parent, guardian, or legal custodian while the parent, guardian, or legal custodian is temporarily away. Family foster homes, pre-adoptive infant foster homes and specialized foster homes are types of foster homes.

“Kin” means the following: 

    (a) Individuals related by blood or adoption: 

        (i) Parents, grandparents, including grandparents with the prefix “great,” “great-great,” “grand,” or “great-grand.” 

        (ii) Siblings. 

        (iii) Aunts, uncles, nephews, and nieces, including such relative with the prefix “great,” “great-great,” or “great-grand.” 

        (iv) Cousins and first cousins once removed. 

    (b) Stepparents and stepsiblings. 

    (c) Spouses and former spouses of individuals named in paragraph (a) of this rule. 

    (d) Any non-relative adult the current custodial caretaker or child identifies as having a familiar and long-standing relationship/bond with the child and/or the family which will ensure the child’s social ties.

“Primary Parents” is a definition not yet set up in Ohio Rules but used for parents who are or have been involved in the children services system through open cases.  Primary parents may be adoptive, or kinship as well as birth/first parents.  They are the family that reunification plans are set up with during a child’s stay in foster care.