Informal and Formal Kinship Care. Introduction


This report presents the results of work pursued by analysts at two separate research institutions in a collaboration designed to provide the best information available to describe the children living without a parent in kinship care arrangements in the United States.

The work was charged by task order to examine existing national data sources in order to describe the characteristics of children in kinship living arrangements and to define recent trends in the pattern of kinship caregiving. Particular importance was attached to developing information that could support a comparison between formal kinship care arrangements (i.e. kinship care provided as foster care under state auspices) and informal kinship arrangements (all other caregiving provided by relatives in the absence of a parent).

The project included four separate, and relatively independent, research tasks -- each using a different set of information tools. Taken as a whole, they provide a greatly improved picture of kinship care in the United States and an enriched context for discussing these issues.

This report is organized into two separate Volumes.

  • Volume I contains an executive summary, a brief review of the literature on kinship care, the narrative portion of each of the four research reports, and a closing discussion.
  • Volume II contains the Figures and Tables that support the discussion for each of the four research reports in Volume I. Please note that Volume II is essential to reading the material in Volume I -- it is not an addendum or appendix, but an integral part of the four reports. The Tables and Figures are arranged apart from the narrative to encourage the reader to refer to them while reading the reports, without continually having to turn pages back and forth.

Section I, the Current Population Survey analysis, was prepared by Rebecca L. Clark and Karen E. Maguire of the Urban Institute. Sections II-V, analyzing census data and state- generated administrative record information, were prepared by Allen Harden at the Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago.

This work was prepared for the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, United States Department of Health and Human Services, Contract Number HHS- 100-95-0021, Delivery Order #4. Laura Feig of the Office of Children and Youth Policy was the ASPE Contract Officer for this Task Order. Her contributions to the project were substantial, and her guidance, patience and support are appreciated greatly by the authors.

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