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
Given the differing standards to which many public kinship caregivers are held by child welfare agencies, policy makers and child welfare experts alike have questioned the safety of these arrangements (Kusserow, 1992). Three types of concerns have been raised: that public kinship caregivers may themselves be abusive parents; that they may not prev
Report to the Congress on Kinship Foster Care. Family Continuity, Access of Birth Parents to Children
Foster care can be extremely disruptive for children, threatening their sense of belonging and causing anxiety over the temporary nature of their living situation (Dore and Kennedy, 1981; Laird, 1979; Pecora et al., 1992). Public kinship care placements appear to minimize this disruption, may be less traumatic than placements with non-kin provider
Foster parents seek to provide a safe, stable, and family-like setting for children who cannot live with their parents. Foster care is meant to be temporary, with children returning home or finding an alternative permanent placement as soon as possible. Unfortunately, being placed in foster care can be traumatic for children. Moreover, studies hav
Report to the Congress on Kinship Foster Care. Services Provided to Public Kinship Caregivers and to Birth Parents
Not only are public kinship caregivers less likely than non-kin foster parents to receive services, their needs are more often overlooked. Public kinship caregivers are referred for, offered, and actually receive fewer services for themselves and for the children in their care (Barth et al., 1994; Berrick et al., 1994; Chipungu and Everett, 1994;
Report to the Congress on Kinship Foster Care. Supervision and Information Provided to Public Kinship Care Families
Several studies show that child welfare workers tend to supervise public kinship care families less than non-kin foster families (Beeman et al., 1996; Berrick et al., 1994; Brooks and Barth, 1998; Chipungu et al., 1998; Dubowitz, 1990; Gebel, 1996; Iglehart, 1994). For example, one study found that caseworkers conduct less frequent home visits and
Report to the Congress on Kinship Foster Care. Child Welfare Service Delivery and Supervision of Kinship CARE Families
Many States have developed different policies for public kinship and non-kin foster care (Chapter 2). Available data suggest that child welfare workers’ service delivery and supervision practices for public kinship care families also differ.
Report to the Congress on Kinship Foster Care. Chapter 4 Experiences of Public Kinship Care Families
Given the differences in their circumstances and characteristics, it is not surprising that the experiences of public kinship care families differ from those of non-kin foster care families. Specifically, it appears that child welfare caseworkers treat public kinship care families differently than they do non-kin foster families. They provide less
This chapter includes all available information on two of the items for which Congress specifically requested information: the conditions under which children enter care and the characteristics of kinship caregivers and their households. Listed below are additional information needed and potential sources of this information.
Report to the Congress on Kinship Foster Care. Summary of the Characteristics of Kinship CARE Households
Kinship care families appear to be very different from non-kin foster families in several key ways:
Data show that the well-being of kinship caregivers is generally lower than that of non-kin foster parents. Kinship caregivers experience a variety of economic, health, and emotional difficulties and often have difficulty making ends meet. For example, they are more likely than non-kin foster parents to borrow money from friends, to be without tel
Almost all studies that have collected data on the income of kinship caregivers have found that they are significantly poorer than non-kin foster parents (Barth et al., 1994; Beeman et al., 1996; Berrick et al., 1994; Brooks and Barth, 1998; Chipungu et al., 1998; Gebel, 1996; Geen and Clark, 1999; Le Prohn, 1994; Zimmerman et al., 1998). For exam
While data are limited, they indicate that fewer children and fewer persons live in public kinship care households than in non-kin foster homes (Chipungu et al., 1998; Dubowitz et al., 1993). Public kinship caregivers are more likely to be the only adult in their household, and they are more likely to care for only one child, whereas non-kin foste
It appears that kinship care (both public and private) is more common in central cities than in rural or metropolitan areas (Beeman et al., 1996; Cook and Ciarico, 1998; Harden et al., 1997). However, at least for private kinship care, this appears to be largely because African American families are more heavily concentrated in the central cities
Kinship caregivers (both private and public) appear to be much more likely than non-kin foster parents to be single (Barth et al., 1994; Beeman et al., 1996; Bonecutter and Gleeson, 1997; Chipungu and Everett, 1994; Chipungu et al., 1998; Dubowitz, 1990; Gaudin and Sutphen, 1993; Gebel, 1996; Geen and Clark, 1999; Le Prohn, 1994; Pecora et al., 19
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; Grog
Most studies that have collected data on the age of kinship caregivers have found that, on average, they are older than non-kin foster parents, with a dramatic difference in the number of caregivers over age 60 (Barth et al., 1994; Berrick et al., 1994; Chipungu et al., 1998; Davis et al., 1996; Gaudin and Sutphen, 1993; Gebel, 1996; Geen and Clar
Children in public kinship care are more likely than children in non-kin foster care to be younger and African American. 28 Public kinship caregivers are more likely than non-kin foster parents to be older, African American, single, and never married. They are also more likely to live in poverty and to be less well educated.
Report to the Congress on Kinship Foster Care. Characteristics of Kinship Caregivers and Their Households
The characteristics of public and private kinship caregivers and children differ significantly from those of non-kin foster families.
In private kinship care arrangements, as well as agency-involved public care, birth parents typically retain custody of their children, often affording kinship caregivers more limited decision-making authority than non-kin foster parents. Without legal custody, kin lack the authority to take important actions such as enrolling a child in school, s