Report to the Congress on Kinship Foster Care. Permanency

06/01/2000

Permanency refers to the child welfare goal of securing, as quickly as possible, a stable living arrangement for children who must be removed from their parents’ homes. As discussed below, the unique nature of kinship care often makes traditional plans for permanency—specifically, reunification with parents or adoption— problematic. Moreover, there has been much debate over where kinship care fits into the continuum of permanency options. Some researchers suggest that kinship care can be used effectively to “divert” children from the formal foster care system (Berrick, 1998). Many, including several members of the Kinship Care Advisory Panel, argue that public kinship care, like non-kin foster care, should be a short-term arrangement for children while reunification with parents is attempted (Kinship Care Advisory Panel, 1999). Others maintain that kinship care itself can be a permanent option, an opinion supported by the Adoption and Safe Families Act, which identified “a fit and willing relative” as a potential “planned permanent living arrangement” (Kinship Care Advisory Panel, 1999; McDaniel et al., 1997).

It appears that kinship care has both positive and negative effects on permanent living arrangements for children. Public kinship care homes are very stable, but children remain in them for relatively long periods and are less likely to be reunified with their parents. However, some evidence suggests that once children in public kinship care are reunified with their parents, they are less likely to reenter foster care.

 

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