African American children are disproportionately represented in the foster care population. Further, children in public kinship care are far more likely than children in non-kin foster care to be African American (Altshuler, 1998; Berrick et al., 1995; Bonecutter and Gleeson, 1997; Cook and Ciarico, 1998; Dubowitz, 1990; Geen and Clark, 1999; Grogan-Kaylor, 1996; Iglehart, 1994; Landsverk et al., 1996; Scannapieco et al., 1997). For example, one study found that approximately 60 percent of children in public kinship care are African American, compared to 45 percent in the non-kin foster care population (Cook and Ciarico, 1998).30 Similarly, kinship caregivers are far more likely than non-kin foster parents to be African American (Barth et al., 1994; Berrick et al., 1994; Bonecutter and Gleeson, 1997; Chipungu et al., 1998; Gebel, 1996; Geen and Clark, 1999; Le Prohn, 1994; Pecora et al., 1999; Scannapieco et al., 1997; Thornton, 1991).31 There appear to be no significant differences between the proportion of kinship and non-kin foster children and caregivers who are Hispanic (Chipungu et al., 1998; Cook and Ciarico, 1998).32

Figure 6. Characteristics of Children in Public Kinship Care


Compared to children in non-kin foster care, those in public kinship care are more likely to be

  • Younger
  • African American
  • In better physical and mental health
  • Less likely to experience educational or behavioral problems


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