The origins of child-only cases have a direct bearing on the well-being of children in these cases. Sanctioned-parent, SSI-parent, and immigrant-parent cases are created by circumstances that leave families intact. In contrast, the origins of nonparent child-only cases are more complex and potentially more distressing (Wood and Strong, 2002). These children are not living with their parents, but with relatives who have taken on the responsibility of raising them. Children in nonparent child-only cases often have parents with serious personal problems that make it impossible or inappropriate for them to raise their children. It is important to note that there may be multiple reasons why the child is living with a nonparent caregiver. For example, the parent(s) may
- not be able to raise the child because of a substance abuse problem,
- have a history of abuse or neglect of the child,
- have mental health issues,
- be incarcerated or have previous criminal involvement that prohibit(s) the child from living with her/him,
- not be financially capable of caring for the child,
- have deserted the child with no explanation, or
- be deceased.
Each of the situations can cause emotional and physical distress to a child. While placement with a relative caregiver provides some immediate stability and support for the child, the child remains at risk for emotional and behavioral problems.