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2000 Jordan Institute
for Families

Vol. 1, No. 2
Winter 1996

Miller vs. Youakim

Miller v. Youakim is the 1979 United States Supreme Court case that directs local child welfare agencies to pay kinship caregivers the same rate foster parents are given, provided they meet foster home licensing requirements.

The case originated in Illinois after four children were removed from their mother's care because of neglect. Initially, all the children were placed in foster care with non-relatives. Later, two of the children were transferred to the care of relatives who met the state's licensing requirements for foster homes. The state, however, would not pay these relatives the foster care rate because of their relationship to the children. Legal proceedings on behalf of all four children and others like them began at that time.

In reviewing the Social Security Act sections pertaining to this question, the court found that the preference for kinship care was clearly expressed throughout legislative history. They did not agree that any distinction should be made between foster parents and relative caregivers.

Generally, states have interpreted this decision to mean that kinship placements that meet state licensing requirements for foster homes must receive payment at the same rate as nonrelative foster placements. North Carolina's policy states that "relatives should be informed that they may be licensed as foster parents if they so desire and if they meet licensing standards" (NCDSS, p. 12). If your county does not regularly meet this standard, it may be at risk for legal action.


Miller v. Youakim, 44 U.S. 125, 99 S. Ct. 957 (1979).

N.C. Division of Social Services. (1996). Family Services Manual, Vol. 1, Chapter IV. Raleigh, NC: Author.

1996 Jordan Institute for Families