Children in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Child-Only Cases with Relative Caregivers. 2.5.2 Relative Care May Be the Best Alternative


Placement with a relative is usually seen as the best alternative when out-of-home care is necessary (Edelhoch, 2002). States have been giving preference to relatives when placing children outside their parental home since the mid-1990s (Edelhoch, Liu, and Martin, 2002). In an environment where foster care availability is declining, relative care offers states an essential and critical alternative. In addition, many caseworkers also believe that placement with relatives is in the best interest of the child (DHHS, 1998). Possible advantages of placement with relatives include facilitation of identity formation, preservation of family ties, and increased visitation. In most relative caregiver cases, the children have suffered emotional trauma in separating from their parents. While relative placement is no substitute for parental care, it is viewed generally as one of the best alternatives for out-of-home placement (Edelhoch, 2002; Berrick Barth, and Needell, 1994; Christian, 2000).

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