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December 2013Vol. 14, No. 9Children Living in Nonparental Care

Nearly 3 million, or almost 4 percent of American children, live in a home where no parent is present. Most of these children live with relatives, over half with a grandparent, and roughly 300,000 are in foster care. Little is known about the family dynamics for children in nonparental care, the reasons for their entry into nonparental care, and how these reasons may affect their well-being. A literature review from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, was conducted as a step in the process toward developing a National Survey of Children in Non-Parental Care (NSCNC). The NSCNC is a follow-up survey to the 2011 National Survey of Children's Health.

Data from the NSCNC, a telephone survey, will be available in 2014. It is estimated that, when complete, the survey will have a sample size of approximately 2,000 children. Respondents will be asked to provide information about the following:

  • The health and well-being of children and their caregivers
  • Living arrangements and custody issues
  • Continuing parental roles
  • Relationships with siblings and kin
  • Service accessibility

The project is being conducted by ASPE and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics.

The literature review, Children in Nonparental Care: A Review of the Literature and Analysis of Data Gaps, by Sharon Vandivere, Ana Yrausquin, Tiffany Allen, Karin Malm, and Amy McKlindon, is available on the ASPE website: (846 KB)