Informal and Formal Kinship Care. Introduction


Between 1983-85 and 1992-93, the number of children in the United States grew modestly, from about 62,532,000 to 66,639,000, an increase of 6.6 percent (see Table 1.1). Over the same period, the number of children in kinship care increased slightly faster, from about 1,282,000 to 1,390,000, an 8.4 percent increase. This increase was due to increased prevalence of kinship care among African American children, which changed from 5.2 percent to 6.1 percent between 1983-85 and 1992-93. There was no increase for non-Hispanic whites and only a very small increase for Hispanic whites, from 2.4 percent to 2.7 percent.

In this first section of the report, we will discuss:

  • How kin care prevalence rates differ by race and ethnicity (Hispanic versus non-Hispanic), age, sex, geographic region, and metropolitan status of residence.
  • The characteristics of children in kinship care and their families, how these characteristics changed between 1983-85 and 1992-94, and how the characteristics of children in kinship care differ from the characteristics of children in parent care; and,
  • How children in kinship care compare with children in foster care.

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