Unlike non-kin foster parents, kinship caregivers usually receive little, if any, advance preparation for their role.
In all States, non-kin foster parents are required to complete a rigorous training program before the State will license them. Such training helps future foster parents understand the needs of abused or neglected children and emphasizes strategies for meeting these needs effectively. Non-kin foster parents also have time to prepare mentally for their new roles and to adjust their living space to make it appropriate for children of a particular age.
In sharp contrast, kinship caregivers often become involved in a crisis situation with little or no notice. Not being prepared for the arrival of children, they may not have adequate space, furniture (such as a crib), or other child-related necessities (for example, toys or a car seat). Most kinship caregivers are grandparents who have not had parenting duties for some time and who may be apprehensive about raising a child at this stage in their lives. If they have become involved due to the abuse or neglect of a child, they may be forced to acknowledge the problems of the child they raised and may question their own parenting skills. Unlike trained non-kin foster parents, kinship caregivers often receive little formal training and may have a limited understanding of the child welfare system, what is expected of them, and the resources available to assist them. Kinship caregivers, however, generally have greater knowledge of the family history and dynamics that have created the need for a child to be placed outside the home.