Kinship care families appear to be very different from non-kin foster families in several key ways:
- Kinship caregivers. Kinship caregivers usually receive little if any advance preparation for assuming their role. Agency-involved and private kinship caregivers are often constrained by limited decision-making authority. Public and private kinship caregivers are older, more likely to be single, and more likely to be African American. Public kinship caregivers are also more likely never to have married, to be the only adult in the household, and to take care of fewer children. Kinship caregivers’ homes are more likely to be in central cities, though this appears to be largely because African Americans are concentrated in central cities. Both public and private kinship caregivers are likely to have less education and lower incomes and are more likely to receive public benefits than non-kin foster parents. Public kinship caregivers are less likely to report being in good health and appear to be more likely to experience economic hardship.
- Children in kinship care. Children in private kinship care are older than children in non-kin foster care, while children in public kinship care are younger than non-kin foster children. Children in public kinship care are much more likely to be African American, to enter the child welfare system because of abuse or neglect, as opposed to other family problems, and to come from homes in which the caregiver had a drug or alcohol problem. However, children in public kinship care appear to have fewer physical health, mental health, educational, or behavioral problems than children in non-kin foster care.