On Their Own Terms: Supporting Kinship Care Outside of TANF and Foster Care. Implications for Future Research


This study was largely exploratory, documenting a relatively new service delivery approach for a very specific population. As such, the study raises more questions than it answers. In order to ensure informed program development, policy makers need considerably more information about the kinship care population and their services.

  • Child welfare kinship care practices.  Over the past few years, researchers have documented federal and state policies affecting kinship care, but much less is known about local kinship foster care practices. Researchers need to document, compare and assess the approaches that child welfare agencies are using to serve kinship care families. New research should include more detailed information, especially outcome data, about commonly implemented models such as family group decision-making and subsidized guardianship. It should also include information about how states and local courts are interpreting and implementing ASFA guidelines as they relate to kin.
  • TANF Child-only grants.  TANF program administrators need much more information about child-only cases if they choose to broaden their priorities and service strategies to include a more holistic and family-centered approach. There is a striking lack of research and information on child-only cases, even though such cases represent a significant share of the TANF caseload. There is little known about such families' characteristics, their economic circumstances, their use of TANF, or their involvement and interaction with child welfare and other programs. In addition, there has been little research on the state variation in the share of child-only cases and kinship care families receiving child-only grants.
  • Other supports for private kin.  While this study focused on child welfare and TANF clients, kinship care families may come into contact with a wide range of public agencies. It is important to document how other systems address the needs of kin including agencies that provide child care, education, housing, health, mental health, and legal services.


25 Final rule implementing the Adoption and Safe Families Act, published in the Federal Register, January 25, 2000.

26.Although states cannot claim federal reimbursement for foster care payments made to provisionally licensed kin.

27. Most, but not all, kin are eligible to receive an ongoing adoption assistance payment that is typically at the level of a foster care payment.